M.A.G.S.’s latest album “Say Things That Matter” has just dropped today! This album is a clear evolution from his previous self-titled album. The production value has really been stepped up, and there’s such a range of eclectic styles and musicianship. It has tons of influences from his original indie rock sound but also pulls from so many more genres. There’s a lot of pop thrown in with some jazzy vocal lines. There’s also a bit of an R&B sound in the vocals of some of the smoother tracks.This is an album that has songs that can pull in a more general audience, but it’s super diverse and original. It truly breaks the mold of any specific genre.
This album does a lot of things that are hard to get right. There are so many shifts in energy, which is something that can be jarring when done incorrectly. M.A.G.S. really falls into smooth transitions, which adds to the beauty of the album. There’s also the use of both high-fidelity and low-fidelity sound. Most musicians remain static in their production, but “Say Things That Matter” uses different production throughout the tracks, but it’s all done in a crisp and clean way. This is a huge feat, as M.A.G.S. writes, records, and produces all of his own music. It’s obvious that he has a passion and knowledge for all-things music. There’s definitely a newfound confidence that shines bright all throughout “Say Things That Matter.”
Overall, this album has such a warm tone, and it gives such a summery vibe. It’s a story that seems to follow a summery and bright romance, and also the loss of it. In an interview with americansongwriter.com M.A.G.S. states that “partway through writing the songs for the record when I realized there was an overarching theme,” and that theme is deeply personal. The writer, Jason Scott, goes on to explain that that theme was personal growth. It follows the story of him moving out from his family and also getting a divorce. Not only that. It’s an album about finding self-love, which might just be the most important love of all.
“Say Things That Matter” is spattered with bangers, chill vibes and everything in between. The ‘Intro’ starts off with a chill lo-fi sound. And it seamlessly breaks into the song ‘Smile’ that has such an upbeat energetic vibe to it. This track displays some of his musical evolution by taking on a less heavy sound from his previous repertoire, but also while keeping some of the musicality. This includes powerful chanting and percussive down strums, that have been a signature throughout his discography. It definitely sounds like M.A.G.S., but it’s such an evolution. There’s a grungier guitar in areas of this piece that perfectly contrasts the rest of it.
The energy of ‘Smile’ picks up even more for ‘Wait’ an uptempo bop with a heavy guitar solo that proves that M.A.G.S. can definitely still work with the heavier sound that he built his music off of. This song has a driving force to it, pulling the listener forward, “I got a feeling I should say this now / Don’t wait forever / I got a feeling I should tell you / Don’t wait forever,” the lyrics perfectly match with the song’s energy. It’s about moving forward. You can’t just wait forever. There’s a small portion at the beginning of the next track ‘Choked Out” that plays just a bit on the low-fidelity sound, and it immediately breaks into a piece that shines through with its originality. The bass line really shines through, and there’s such a groove to it. In it, M.A.G.S. works with a vocal tone that sounds different from anything else he’s done. It’s another piece that demonstrates his range perfectly.
The next track on this album is called ‘Golden.’ This is one of the most chill songs on the track. The vocal tone is so smooth, and the guitar pulls in such a dreamy sound. It has a summery tone that continues through the interlude which is a chill synthy piece that has beach sounds which really pull you into the warm summery landscape. This chill summery energy continues through the track ‘Beachlove.’ These tracks work with more downtempo lyrics and have a lot more of a higher falsetto tone to create the perfect summertime daydream.
‘Beg’s start is just gorgeous. The simple guitar strums fit with the vocal lines and riffs perfectly. The energy slowly grows before a huge hit with the music picking up once again. The way the tempo picks up and slows down is captivating, and there’s a perfect grungy sound in the heavier portions, especially with the powerful guitar solo near the end. Metaphors is a quick track that plays with the synths a ton. It’s simple and serves as the perfect in-between for ‘Beg’ and ‘Bike.’ Which both make great use of the darker sound in the electric guitars. ‘Bike’ also has a guitar solo, but it plays with a brighter sound than in ‘Bike.’ This track sounds like it may be about escape, a break. ‘I’ve not been myself for quite some time / I need a break / I need to go and ride my bike forever / clear my week get really high,’ the chorus repeats.
‘Staircase,’ the next track on the album, is another one that plays on a higher vocal tone. There’s a simplicity to the vocals as the guitar line jumps around in a dreamy way. This one gives a really great chance for the instrumentation to shine through while also putting a lot of that smooth beauty in the vocals. ‘Nostalgia’ is a song of longing and anger. The lyricism seems to explore the nostalgia of a past relationship, but it contrasts itself with the lyrics ‘Fuck your feelings / Fuck em all / And fuck that little thing you call assumption / Like you know what I’m thinking / What I’m feeling.” This song also plays with a lower fidelity. Purposeful or not, the fidelity is perfect for the concept of nostalgia itself. This is because lo-fi music plays on both low fidelity and nostalgia. This makes the sound a perfect match for the track.
The penultimate track ‘Forever’ has some jazzy vocal riffing in it that are so good they’re chilling. The vocal layering builds really nice harmonies, and the drums carry such a nice beat. It has a super calm energy. That is until the bridge with heavy guitar chords, and some heavier chanted vocals. Some of this carries through the end with a vocal filter that brings in a bit of grunge, and the end hits with a more belted tone for the end of the chorus, “I won’t be late / I won’t let you down / Give me one more chance / I won’t let you down.” The lyricism in this track sounds like they’re about an ended relationship, but one that’s seemingly impossible to get over. Like it’s the subtle impulse of a brain wanting to rekindle something that won’t rekindle.
The final track ‘Sunrise’ starts off with a perfect ambiance, and the guitar creates the perfect somber tone. The song repeats the same chorus with instrumental interludes dispersed between, “It’s time for that sunrise oh oh oh / Truth coming to me clear / Eyes open to meet you / You said you’d be here / So I’ll just wait dear.” Instead of a forward-driven sound, this one is a lot more reserved. It’s a perfect end to this masterpiece of an album that takes you on a journey of emotion. It’s like a rollercoaster inside the head of a speaker, jumping between a force pulling them forward and the reservations that still hold them back.
Los Angeles-based artist Elliot Douglass, aka M.A.G.S., is a primarily indie rock musician who works with a variety of genres. He built an adoration from a young age after discovering Christian rock music in a religious household. This evolved into his love for music in general and led to him starting to learn how to play music. He plays all of his own music and also takes the time to produce it as well. Truly a musical star in every sense of the term. With every release, a distinct growth in musical ability can be seen. That leads to his latest album, “Say Things That Matter,” which shows growth from his already well written, recorded and produced previous EP, “Lost Tapes.”
Written by Sage Plapp