May 8, 2024

Emerging from a crowded room of Alternative Rock bands during the 1990s was no easy task, but Better Than Ezra is one of those which managed to do just that. Initially coming together in 1988, and releasing their debut album Surprise in 1990, ultimately it would be 1993’s Deluxe which launched them up the charts with big songs like “Good.” Making it to number 1 on the Modern Rock Charts, “Good” was a memorable footmark in Better Than Ezra’s history as they moved forward with success that followed in 1996 with Friction, Baby; an album which included “King of New Orleans” and “Desperately Wanting.” From here the band consistently broke the Billboard 200 with each album release; from 1998’s How Does Your Garden Grow?, leading into 2014’s All Together Now. Impressive to see such success, believe it or not, a decade has passed since any albums have been put out there by Better Than Ezra… that was until Super Magick’s arrival on May 3, 2024 through Round Hill Records.

A rather lengthy break of time in between records, it is relevant to note that Lead Songwriter Kevin Griffin has kept himself extremely busy writing songs for others, as well as in a solo capacity. Looking at this a little further, Griffin has co-songwriting credits with a slew of artists ranging from Howie Day to Barenaked Ladies, and yes, Taylor Swift. Truly a talented artist, Griffin rejoined with original Better Than Ezra Bassist Tom Drummond, long-time Guitarist/Keyboardist James Arthur Payne Jr., and Drummer Michael Jerome (also known for his work with Crown of Empire) to create some music as a band.

A collection of new songs which was first teased to audiences in 2023 with singles such as “Mystified” and “Contact High,” some might wonder what musical direction Better Than Ezra is pointing these days. Well, if you are familiar with 2014’s All Together Now, you would know the band were affectionately wearing their Pop tendencies on their sleeve. Something of a hybrid between Pop Rock and Alternative Rock, All Together Now showcased an energized band who were open to give the songs whatever they needed. This in mind, you could look at Super Magick as an extension of that approach… just 10 years later. This is not to say Super Magick is an identical twin to All Together Now, because it is not, however, it is saying that Griffin and the rest of the band remain on a similar creative wave-length.

With this in mind, you get a colorful mix of modern Pop Rock filled with various textures of Alternative Rock that do not sacrifice any of the song’s integrity for the sake of a hook and catchy melody. If anything, their approach to these new tracks is fresh, lively, and something that will appeal to a pretty broad audience. Leading the charge here would be cuts like the aforementioned “Mystified,” “Live A Little,” “Sensation,” and the irresistible Synthpop flavors of “Omens.” Then joining them as equally fun listens would have to be the more Alternative Rock styled “Fuzzy” and “Bad Communication,” along with the very lovely messaging felt within “Grateful.”

Overall, after 10 years away Better Than Ezra sounds as inspired as ever. They are moving forward with a modern sound, but all while retaining distinctive qualities that made them who they were back in the day. Above all, they are writing quality songs that stick with you and entice you to give them multiple listens. That is why Cryptic Rock welcomes back Better Than Ezra, giving Super Magick 4 out of 5 stars.



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