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Magnetic North (Bonus Track Version)

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iTunes Review

Magnetic North reaffirms Aqualung’s commitment to old-school pop music verities, even as it embraces au courant sonic textures. Its yearning romanticism and well-sculpted tunes are enhanced by elegant production values, emphasizing minimal piano lines and austere arrangements. Aqualung (a.k.a. Matt Hales) still manages to convey joy and optimism as well as melancholy. Tunes like the sparkling “Fingertip” and the gospel-inflected “New Friend” capture a sense of newfound delight, matching whimsical lyrics with insistent grooves. He reaffirms his piano balladeer status on “36 Hours” and “Sundowning,” introducing jazzy rhythmic figures at key moments. A hint of prog-rock ambition creeps into “Reel Me In,” while “California” has the optimistic vibe of early-‘70s L.A. rock. At times, Aqualung descends into chilly introspective depths, as in the bleakly confessional “Lost.” If there’s an emotional core to be found here, it lies in “Remember Us,” an exquisitely tormented duet with Sara Bareilles featuring the album’s loveliest (and most disquieting) melody.

Customer Reviews

Great Stuff

Aqualung is always amazing. From album to album is always an adventure, like from S&B to Memory Man and each album tells its own story. He's got his own style and I'm excited that he's collaborated a bit in this album, which is different, but it still fells like Aqualung. Overall its great and I love the sound. I feel like you can really tell his influences more in this album and it reminds me of some of his earlier stuff.

Magnetic Music from Aqualung/Matt Hales

Aqualung is Back ! Either you are a diehard fan of Matt and his "sad/poignant lyricism" or a new listener it is nearly impossible to ignore his latest record. "New Friend" and "Fingertip" echoes the Britt Invasion's grooved-goofiness of falling in love - these songs makes you want to dance, laugh, and hopefully think beyond its guilt-free appeal. "Sundowning" is that classic Aqualung tale of lost love with a string of hope hidden in every verse. This is a haunting, straightforward song that might translate into words that familiar feeling so many times unspoken of. The music is beautiful and the harmonic choices are the highlights of the album. I was surely surprised with "Hummingbird"- it resonance previous songs and yet have an adventurous quality to it that showcases Matt's growth as a musician and songwriter. "Lost" and "Magnetic North" deserves a special mention. I personally admire Aqualung's ability to balance earnest poetry and realistic observations of the fragility of love - these songs are Masterpieces by any account. Aqualung "stays true" to his craft and to his fans; this two songs alone are worth buying the Album, listening again and again, and showing it to friends/lovers as a statement of what real music should sound like. "Time Moves Slow" has a Bossa Nova facet that caught me off guard (I am Brazilian) - it made me think of "Samba de Uma Nota Só"; simple yet quite amusing. This song makes a great argument for refined and intimate music versus the grandiose noise most radios play these days. Much has been said about "Remember Us" (thanks to Grey's Anatomy) and all I can say is that if you had the "privilege" of loving and have your heart broken you will appreciate this great reframe - melancholy aside. Magnetic North sounds as a compilation of Matt's greatest songs and yet is a fresh and original product that stays true to honest and intelligent songwriting from beginning to end. Matt was truly adventurous and the result is a great album that won't disappoint Aqualung's followers and will hopefully gather the deserved attention and appreciation from new fans. It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. - Alan Cohen

Typical, Great Aqualung

I have lived through 50 years of rock and pop music. I own every Aqualung album and find this equal to Strange and Beautiful and better than some others. When I listened to Thin Air on this album, it reminded me of Simon and Garfunkel except they played guitars. Matt is much, much more talented by his writings and his piano playing. Though his voice often goes beyond his reach, the words and music are solid, the final product is something to cherish and listen to again and again. Perhaps I got hooked on the Beatles when I was in high school, but British artists seem to have creative and superbly executed songs...and Matt is one of them.


Born: January, 1972 in Southhampton, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Aqualung is the brainchild of British songwriter Matt Hales, who discovered his love of melodic pop music while listening to songs at his parents' Southampton record store. Inspired by the artists he heard, Hales began writing songs on the family piano at the age of four. By the time he turned 16, the young musician had earned a scholarship to Winchester College, where he studied music composition. His classes often focused on classical music, and Hales responded by writing a symphonic piece, "Life...
Full Bio
Magnetic North (Bonus Track Version), Aqualung
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