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From the guy who brought us Brighter Than Sunshine, Strange and Beautiful, and for those Scrubs and Brothers and Sisters fans, Easier To Lie, comes Magnetic North, Matt Hales aka Aqualung's 6th studio album. After releasing two tracks from said album, Fingertip, his lead single, and New Friend, a free online download, Aqualung had me intrigued and waiting for Brighter Than Sunshine 2.0.

Magnetic North opens with the free online download, New Friend. Usually, the tracks released for free are... the "less exciting" ones, but it proves to be a very cheerful start, with bouncy piano strokes and clappy bits that don't fail to get me bopping my head along. Reel Me In is an amusing piano-driven number with fast paced verses. Amusing in the sense that Matt Hales warbles giddily, "I'm drowning!" After two sparkly piano tracks, Sundowning eases down its tone, and it's actually a pretty good standalone song, but in the album it does nothing to stand out from the piano-led ensemble.

36 Hours is one of the best in the album, as it is very "loopable", and the subtle hint of samba cleverly introduced in the last bits of the song is genius. Another great track follows in the form of flagship Fingertip. Even just the intro makes me bop my head along. It's a feelgood, pleasant experience that puts a grin on my face, and the guitars are simply working magic in the background. Lost starts off rocky, and it's one of the more "stripped-down" songs in Magnetic North where Matt showcases his Chris Martin-like falsettos in a sweeping ballad. Probably the track with the most admirable piano composition is Time Moves Slow. It has this feelgood vibe to it with its sparkly piano production and Aqualung once again manages to make me smile.

California is a frustration not because of horrid lyrics or anything, but its length. It has so much potential as an album standout but it only runs for 1:23. After being annoyed at California's duration, Matt Hales humors us with a 6+ minute long ballad, Remember Us, which surprisingly doesn't bore too much. AND, it features Sara Bareilles! Hummingbird is a pretty good follow-up track with its fun, upbeat piano strokes. A song reminiscent of Coldplay is Thin Air, were it not for the instrumentals, and it's one of the better tracks of the LP. The title holder, Magnetic North, gives a great end to the album. The melancholic, wistful tone to Matt's voice compliments the instrumentals perfectly.

Aqualung and his preferred piano-driven instrumentals are like a Coldplay, The Fray, and Jack Johnson amalgam. The distinction between the tracks are very subtle, and while each of them works well independently, the result of putting them all together is a little above average. It drags a little halfway through, and again I point it back to the lack of variety.



Get your FREE download of Best Friend HERE.

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