Magneta Lane – Gambling With God

Three years on from their debut full-length, Torontonian power-pop trio Magneta Lane return with their risky-sounding second album Gambling With God, only to show that they have taken no such chances with the actual music. Exhibiting little in the way of artistic growth from 2006’s Dancing With Daggers, these 10 tracks suffer a similar fate to that album in that they simply don’t possess enough variety. Singer/guitarist Lexi Valentine, bassist French and drummer Nadia King have stuck fairly rigidly to the pop-noir formula that has served them moderately well in the past, with only a few glimpses of something different. 

When they do attempt a broader palette, such as on the standout track ‘Violet’s Constellations’, they prove they can rival the emotive alt-rock heights of Nicole Atkins, but generally Valentine’s vocals come across as too deadpan and dry (see ‘Castles’, ‘All The Red Feelings’) to really give the songs the depth of feeling that would really elevate them into something special. The use of an acoustic guitar for ‘September Came’ is a nice touch, providing the album with a welcome centrepiece interlude, but again the song would benefit from a more expressive singer. So while the previously unconverted might long for a more forceful shake of the dice, it’s safe to say that existing fans will find Gambling With God a satisfying ride around the roulette wheel.

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