Magnolia Park – ‘Halloween Mixtape II’

By Katherine Allvey

“When did everything get so awful complicated?” Magnolia Park’s frontman, Joshua Roberts, opens this year’s Halloween Mixtape with this plaintive question. He makes a good point. When did Halloween become about more than just funneling a distressing amount of sugar or sugary alcohol (depending on your age and preference) in your face while listening to Misfits? Magnolia Park’s ‘Halloween Mixtape II’ fills the void in your soul and headphones with the kind of music and ethos that harkens back to a simpler time. While Epitaph’s genre-mixing breakout stars are deliberately throwing back to the early noughties, it’s less a photographic recreation of the time and more of a fond, warm homage. It’s as if they remember winning Halloween costume contest at their local rock night, but not the queues outside or that their costume was made of a bin bag.

‘Halloween Mixtape II’ also serves as a showcase for their recent single drops, many of which have already become regular features on their set lists. Roberts wails urgently on ‘Breathing’, their latest anthem which twists and turns into a dream of a chorus. ‘Antidote’ is also included, and the mental image of Roberts’ dreads flying as he jumps to the charged beat is familiar to anyone who caught them live this summer. Gutsy Linkin Park descendant ‘Do Or Die’ features self-described ‘emo pop-rap’ vocalist Ethan Ross and flings cyberpunk defiance with every beat. If you aren’t familiar with these three song titles, then trust the millions of streamers who’d tell you that these alone make this an album worth listening to. If you do know these songs, then listen to them again for the hell of it. 

The Floridians have also decided to make explicitly ghoulish and haunted tunes for the first time. Either they’re aiming to get into the seasonal rock songs market, or they’re just having a pumpkin shaped bucketload of fun with the whole concept. ‘Candles’ slams hard with every dramatic stereotype thrown into the mix and deserves a video with someone dressed as the Phantom of the Opera. ‘Haunted House’ can’t be taken seriously, but who cares? It’s an eighties slasher flick in audio form, rivalling an Ice Nine Kills track for sheer commitment to the genre. Slushy Tim Burton themed love ballad ‘Fell In Love in Halloween’ is adorable and evokes that specific time in social history when we all lost our collective minds for ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’. However, the inclusion of twenty second ‘halloween tips’ between songs reinforces the message that this isn’t a ‘proper album’. It’s a pumpkin spice scented grab bag of whatever Magnolia Park feel like offering us.

The political statement in their collaboration with TX2, ‘Life In The USA’, could have its own review. Magnolia Park haven’t been shy about making their feelings known about the current state of politics in America (see last year’s ‘Don’t Be Racist’, a searing response to the BLM protests), and they aren’t about to alter their stance on speaking out any time soon. Using the Offspring’s vintage tactic of including soundbites of imagined responses is a cute throwback to the anti-Bush era of punk, and nonchalantly littering the track with lines like ‘maybe DeSantis is gay’ is equal parts immature provocation and genius-level irreverence. 

A mix tape is always a personal gesture, a hope for a connection sent into the electronic void like a message in a bottle. We’re being rewarded for standing by the band with a fun compilation of recent fan favourite singles and a whole lot of schlocky horror silliness, but by making it a mixtape, Magnolia Park are reinforcing their connection to us. This feels like a symbol of friendship and a promise that so much more is on it’s way. We’re now well fueled for the follow-up to last year’s ‘Baku’s Revenge’, and ‘Halloween Mixtape II’ only makes us crave more Magnolia Park. 


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