The Magic Numbers, Cecil Sharp House, London

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The Independent Culture

I'm not sure that such concern is necessary. This is a Mercury-Prize-nominated band, whose self-titled debut album is, for my money, the best of the year. As they begin a tour, largely of college gigs, catch them while you can. My hunch is they won't be playing small, intimate venues for much longer in their career. Brian Wilson has called them the best new band of the past 10 years and asked them to support him on stage. One can see why. They may have a very different style from The Beach Boys, but their exquisite rock harmonies are a common factor.

The Magic Numbers are two pairs of siblings - brother and sister twice - mixing melody, harmony and a truly pulsating, country-style rock in a manner that is utterly compelling. On stage, with at least two of the band several stones heavier than your average rock musician, and considerably hairier too, they are a formidable sight. It's a tight unit, but the inescapable focus is the lead singer, Romeo Stodart.

It's a strange thing to say of any rock star, especially a large one with beard and shoulder-length hair, but, with his constant, appealing smile, he comes across as, well, terribly sweet. The band is new enough for him still to care about chatting to the audience, answering any daft question that is shouted out, apologise if they pause to have a drink of water, and blush bashfully at the odd heckle. He can also muster a delightful falsetto while belting out an energetic rock chorus, as on their infectious new single "Love Me Like You".

This and the excellent album opener, "Mornings Eleven", typify the band's strengths - Romeo's voice, the delicious backing harmonies and often separate vocal lines of the two girls, Michele Stodart and Angela Gannon, driven along by Sean Gannon's forceful drumming. Looking round the room at Cecil Sharp House, Romeo Stodart recalled: "This is where I learnt to line dance." This ain't your average rock star.

Touring to 5 September (www.themagicnumbers.net)

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