So far, Here We Go Magic have yet to make a mistake. With each record they've become better, tracing an evolutionary line that only goes one way: up. Just listen to their most urgent singles. On their first effort, “Fangela” and “Tunnelvision” showed a hotbed of ideas, developed in different ways on the rest of the material. On the decisive “Pigeons”, “Collector” and “Old World United” confirmed our best predictions about the engines that make the band move, infecting the rest of the tracks with their mechanical blood. And on this fabulous “A Different Ship”, “Make Up Your Mind” (with a Talking Heads-like nerve system) and “How Do I Know” are the flagship tracks that have “improvement and exponential growth” written all over them. The intriguing part is to find out how they balanced things this time, and exactly that is the big news about the album: it handles the group's talents as if with a magic wand.
Generally speaking, there are two types of songs in the style book of Luke Temple and his mates. On one side are the uplifting ones, focused on the rhythm (with elements of Afro-beat and Kraut-rock always present), and which landed them comparisons to bands like The Feelies. On the other are the floating, Radiohead-like ballads; almost opposite to the former, on which the violence is perhaps hidden, deep under the surface. “Over The Ocean” would be a good example of that latter category. As said, on “A Different Ship”, the two types are balanced against each other. Furthermore, they’ve balanced the things they did right in the past and those that were eligible for improvement (which weren't many), and they've come up with the perfect average. All in all it makes it their most homogeneous album yet, a record on which the sonic mass they feed themselves with is perfectly mixed and on which, for the first time, all tracks go hand in hand. Yin and yang.
Decisive for that process, producer Nigel Godrich's sound design remains cautiously hidden and lets the group shine on its own. Godrich, known as the fifth member of Radiohead, is as big a fan of the band as Thom Yorke, and he offered to take the helm on this album. He showed them how to overcome their shyness and let the most basic elements of their song-writing flow; facilitating the least overloaded and most essential songs of their career. Accordingly, they hide the pressure they say they felt in the studio - intimidated as they were by the tools and sonic wisdom surrounding them - at all times. Rather they concentrate on sprinkling everything with that stellar dust that adorns their songs. “I think the best stuff on the record is the stuff that was thought about the least. Tracks like ‘Over The Ocean’, ‘I Believe In Action’, ‘Made To Be Old’ -- written in the morning and recorded the same afternoon,” said Temple about the three tracks that form the backbone of the LP. Words that show the heights they reached as a team and how comfortable they must have felt recording the album.
Temple also explains that the central theme on the record is “unresolved tension between valuing being alone and valuing being connected”, a concept that is posed at the start of the album, with “Hard To Be Close”, and emphasised later on “Alone But Moving”. Furthermore, the release explores the idea of the point in between, of the intersection, this time equidistant from the various visions of the band. “A Different Ship” is the epicentre of Here We Go Magic, the point where all the manifestations of their sound come together. As a logical result of all of that, it is the album on which they extol a quality we already knew they controlled absolutely and which many bands seem to forget: the tone. Without using instrumental interludes or long passages between songs, they've established an exquisite and linear atmosphere of continuous currents, with nine quietly happy songs, between opaque and brilliant, that sound soft even when they shine; pulling and suspended in the air at the same time.