Magdalena Bay, 'You Lose!': Song You Need to Know - Rolling Stone
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Song You Need to Know: Magdalena Bay, ‘You Lose!’

The budding indie pop duo craft an anthem about taking a big L

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Magdalena Bay, the budding Los Angeles indie pop duo, make music that feels both timeless and time-less. Timeless because bandmates Mica Tenenbaum and Matt Lewin have a keen knack for songcraft, and time-less because, in a world where temporality’s been smashed by the internet, Magdalena Bay are there picking up the shards, creating new songs, new worlds, new puzzles out of the pieces. Their latest offering, “You Lose!,” from their upcoming debut album, Mercurial World (out October 8th), is a pristine distillation of all Magdalena Bay does best, adventurous and accessible all in one.

“You Lose!” opens with a lone synth line and spiraling sound-effect that anyone whose ever played an arcade knows can only mean one thing — game over. But here, it’s a beginning, as the song soon settles under the sturdy weight of driving, gated drums. These sounds comprise the core of “You Lose!” but not its entirety, as Magdalena Bay bring in a steely acoustic guitar strum that harkens back to the heyday of Nineties alternative nation, while occasionally, from deep in the mix, a lush harp billows forth to provide just a touch (but not too much) of classical elegance. It’s a thrill each time Magdalena Bay introduce one of these elements, but, of course, nothing beats the ultimate unification on the final chorus.

Despite some of the broken-hearted imagery in the lyrics — “I’m running out of my time/A flower gone dry/Your lips touching mine won’t do,” Tenenbaum croons — “You Lose!” wasn’t inspired by a romantic relationship so much as the agonies and anxieties of trying to make it in music. But Magdalena Bay don’t fixate on the specifics, and instead create a track that comes off as universal in its experience of fraught love and failure. It’s a sentiment captured in the clever video for “You Lose!,” where the band’s visual aesthetic and sense of humor are on full display as Tenenbaum and Lewin take every kind of L imaginable — lost pets, parking tickets, dropped ice cream, burnt toast, spilled salt and spaghetti turned into worms.

Losing is a tried-and-true subject in music, far more durable than winning, maybe because it immediately taps into something empathetic. But it still takes tact to actually pull off that trick instead of falling face first into a puddle of solipsistic loathing and despair. “You Lose!” sticks that landing.

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.


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