Get local news delivered straight to your phone

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Chest hair and neck jewelry figure prominently in the artwork for Magas’ Friends Forever. Does this portend a coming flood of hangers-on hoping to ape the scarily successful Ron Jeremy chic of Har Mar Superstar? Such lyrics as “rock-bottom deviation/It’s a sweet sensation” say yes, but the record’s sound answers with a definite no. James Marlon Magas counts Detroit electro wizard Adam Lee Miller among his buddies, not Kelly Osbourne. Miller, one-half of mystery-cloaked duo Adult., co-produced Friends Forever, lending to it his project’s propulsive beats, if not its velvety textures. But Friends Forever’s formula is familiar, not to say obvious: If the electro revival has been in any way educational, it has taught us that white people playing melodies on synthesizers can do much more than immediately parrot New Order. Particularly on “Toys (Redux)” and “Klub 99,” Magas rifles the toolbox left behind after the recording of “Everything’s Gone Green”—from its handclaps to its bass line to its gurgling synth hook. The album, however, does jettison the cloying refrains; in fact, the vocals are almost menacing in their smuttiness. Muffled under a fog of reverb, Magas growls such lines as “Standing in the fire/Branding your desire” like a demonic carnival barker. Along with his grinding analog synths and tinny drums, his snarl lends Friends Forever’s otherwise familiar electro bluster a satisfyingly grubby texture. Magas’ aesthetic may remain far from the Superstar’s 10W30-grade slickness, but he makes music every bit as dirty.—Mike DeBonis