Edward Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros are equal parts Lou Reed and Hank Williams. With sarcastic lyrics and a spacious, airy sound, their first album, Up From Below, is a glorious mess of sounds that follow perfectly in the footsteps of bands like Arcade Fire and the Decemberists, who put as much importance on grandeur and atmosphere as on music.
True to its grand and theatrical style, Up From Below spans every tempo and mood, from triumphant ballads to softly strummed cautionary blues tales. They are all handled with almost equal deft, and through all their instruments and voices, they maintain an emotional maturity that’s startling. On “Janglin,” Edward ekes out a scratchy moan worth of post-Bowie glam, and “Kisses Over Babylon” channels the spirit of blue-eyed soul tear-jerkers like Long John Baldry or Dusty Springfield. It’s a staggering journey, but it never veers too far from a remarkably strong backbone of simple rock.
Up From Below is a fabulous album, and one of the most memorable works I’ve heard so far this year. Even when it stretches a little thin at points, it maintains a winking, smiling generosity that’s infectious. It’s perfectly evocative all at once of psychedelia, country, and glam rock, with the sexuality and grit of all three shining in full force.
In A Word: Mellotron