The Magic Numbers, Forum, London

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The Independent Culture

Hats off to the PR people behind The Magic Numbers. A month ahead of the release of their eponymous debut album, the group has tonight packed out a venue that some established acts would have trouble filling.

Hats off to the PR people behind The Magic Numbers. A month ahead of the release of their eponymous debut album, the group has tonight packed out a venue that some established acts would have trouble filling.

Neither record company-styled nor svelte, the group comprises two pairs of boy/girl siblings. The guitarist-singer Romeo Stodart and his bass-playing younger sister Michele grew up in Trinidad, then hooked up with the drummer Sean Gannon and his younger sister Angela in Ealing, London.

The Magic Numbers' vocal harmonies evoke The Mamas and The Papas. The hirsute, hippie-ish outfit also has a way with sweet soul grooves, off-kilter arrangements and Monkees-style pop janglers.

"We woke up this morning and it felt like Christmas!" says Romeo, before launching into the propulsive new single "Forever Lost". Hugely likeable and palpably thrilled to be getting his shot at immortality, he is a fine guitarist with a seemingly bottomless sack of inventive arpeggios and hook riffs.

Further in, another highlight is the Phil Spector-ish "I See You, You See Me", a wide-eyed pop nugget of considerable beauty. When Angela briefly commandeers the lead vocal it generates a huge cheer. Here, as throughout, she remains as loveably gauche as her bandmates, only removing her hands from her pockets for glockenspiel duties.

Though not strictly retro, The Magic Numbers seem to have been beamed in from less cynical, more musically fruitful times. In such an atmosphere, it matters not a jot that they have to restart "Oh Sister" when a backing track of pre-recorded horns goes out of sync. By now, we could almost forgive them a cover version of "Agadoo".

The second of three encores, the band's first single "Hymn for Her" is greeted like a lost classic, which - given its quality and lack of exposure - it kind of is. A fabulously bitty concoction, it has that quality of sounding familiar while being unique. When Michele and Angela's delicate glockenspiels introduce the song's third section, you can't help but smile. Romeo is smiling, too - but he hasn't stopped grinning all evening.

The Magic Numbers are a somewhat rare commodity: a group that is even better live than it is on record. Tonight they could have melted the heart of Genghis Khan. Believe the hype and catch them as soon as you can.

Touring to Saturday ( www.themagicnumbers.net)

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