Pile – “Magic Isn’t Real” (2010)



Pile is a post-punk band from Boston, Massachusetts and “magic isn’t real” is their third release, coming after “jerk routine” and “demonstration” from 2009 and 2007 respectively. I’ll just this now, I love this album!

There is not a single wasted track here, from the pummeling and straight-to-the-point punk bangers like “number one hit single” and “away in a rainbow!” to the quiet and ascending tracks like “octopus” and “uncle jill”. The songwriting Pile showcases is incredible: Weird but catchy as hell. Take the song “octopus” for instance. The lyrical content is vague in meaning, at least to me I think it could be about being frustrated giving everything you have to a person but still coming up empty. The lyrics throughout the album in fact are not cut and dry, but it adds to the strength of the songs. There are always new connections and meanings to find in the lyrics. And Rick Maguire, vocalist and guitarist for the band, sings so genuinely and filled with conviction that whatever meaning you may not have gotten from the written words is pouring out from his voice. In “octopus”, it’s difficult not to sing along in the final repeating verse “why hate and doubt things, you thought was honest” as Rick’s voice strongly shouts out his emotions. Those of us that do find meaning in the songs will find a lot to come back to time and again.

The instrumentation and recording on the album is a high point. The low end provided by Matt Becker’s bass playing is a delight throughout and the drums and guitars are punchy. The riffs are earworms and for a lover of punk rock guitar music this album served up a treat for sure.

My favorite song on the album, and one of my favorite songs of all time (seriously this is top 5 no contest), is “don’t touch anything”. Maguire’s singing on this track is electrifying from his pleading notes with “Those eyes swam pretty deep” to the vicious screaming on “My spine is asking to show”. The peaks and valleys in this song are insane and the instrumental breakdown mid-way through is simply perfect with a melodic bass line followed shortly by high-soaring guitar. I just have to put the volume to 10 when this part comes on because anything less does not do this monumental moment justice.

Pile’s “magic isn’t real” is a bit of a misnomer because I think this album is proof enough. They pulled off something special with this one, and while I deeply enjoy their work before and after this album, for me they captured lightning in a bottle here.



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