Meet Magdalena Bay, the Maverick Duo Crafting Sweet-and-Sour Pop Bangers

You don’t need to be on hallucinogens to take in the weird and wonderful waters of Magdalena Bay, but they would probably help. The ever-expanding, 360-degree visual universe Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin have painstakingly crafted around their off-kilter pop project spans everything from DIY music videos to tongue-in-cheek TikToks and surrealist Twitch streams, all underpinned by an aesthetic blending vaporwave and hippie-inflected psychedelia. The only clue that the bulk of it is made on shoestring budgets by just the two of them—improvising with a green screen, handmade props, and royalty-free stock videos from the Internet Archive—is the delightfully chaotic speed at which they’ve released new singles and EPs over the past few years.


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Until, that is, the pandemic hit, and the pair were forced to slow down. “In the past, we never went into making an EP thinking, Let’s write an EP; it was always more like, Let’s write a song, and then we have a bunch of songs, so let’s put them together,” says Lewin. “Going into writing the album with the idea of writing an album helped us think a little more conceptually.” The result was their 14-song debut, Mercurial World, which arrived last October as one of the year’s most dazzling pop records. Packed wall-to-wall with irresistibly catchy synthpop masterpieces—from the infectious playground chant and scuzzy guitars of “You Lose!” to the euphoric highs of “Hysterical Us,” to the twinkling yacht rock of “Secrets (Your Fire)”—the record’s glossy production is both meticulous and thrillingly experimental; retro-feeling, but looking firmly to the future.

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