Don’t dare mistake this band for a gimmick. The Magnifiers are a four piece alt punk rock band from the Windy City and comprised of the Dombrowski siblings. None of the band is over twenty years old. The oldest member, lead guitarist Elliot Dombrowski, is only seventeen years while lead vocalist and second guitarist Eden is fifteen, bassist Eliza is twelve years old, and drummer Everett has just touched double digits at ten years old. Three of the four were born in the Deep South while Everett was born in rural Illinois before the family relocated to the Chicago suburbs. Do not let their young age mislead you about their talents. Their second EP For the People is convincing from the outset and will win over listeners without much effort. The family writes catchy and guitar-driven songs that are direct, simple, but built to last.
The EP begins with a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference with the title “Mostly Harmless”, but the reference ends with the title. Instead, this is more a wry declaration of identity, announcing themselves to newcomers and re-establishing their personality for those with them since the debut. The song doesn’t come barreling out at listeners – instead, it has a more measured, simmering quality. They do a fantastic job building musical tension without ever pushing too hard and vocalist Eden handles the material with authority and confidence. Rock and roll, punk as well, requires a certain amount of vocal attitude to work and Eden proves early on that she’s an effective conveyor of what this song needs. “TV Hat” has a simple but wildly effective bass line hooking audiences in from the beginning and Eden’s vocal receives some post-production treatment that gives it a little added swagger. This is a much “heavier” tune than the opener and the Strum and Drang of its guitar work never taxes the boundaries of taste or the listener’s attention.
“Anarchy Sucks” expresses some improbable sentiments for a punk song, but it’s a wonderfully written track with a dry sense of humor and the EP’s best chorus to this point. Eden, once again, delivers an appealing and wide open vocal. The band keeps all of these songs between three and four minutes in length, but “Anarchy Sucks” is the lone exception clocking in at two minutes fifty seconds. As such, it makes it the prototypical “punk song”, but The Magnifiers avoid any kind of self-indulgence with the longer songs as well. They will definitely turn some heads with the EP’s final song “Transfiguration” – The Magnifiers abandon their electric guitars in favor of acoustic instruments and serve up their most mature piece of songwriting. It’s a wholly unexpected ending for many, to be sure, but they bring every bit of the same credibility to this song that distinguishes the earlier numbers. For the People has broad-based appeal without ever sacrificing its individuality – that’s a rare feat for a band of any age, but coming from a group where not a single member is over twenty, the feat is all the more remarkable.
9 out of 10 stars