Stellar*: Magic Line
By Liz Barry
Love it! "But is it as good as 'Mix'?" Yes! Indeed, Stellar* couldn't go wrong with their second album. For starters there are some big international names in the production team: Tom Bailey, Jack Joseph Puig (who mixed five tracks in his Los Angeles studio and who has worked with Mick Jagger, Natalie Merchant and the Black Crowes), and US mastering guru Bob Ludwig. But for all the record company hype surrounding those names, what it comes down to in the end is Boh Runga herself - still totally charismatic with her fine voice, striking looks, the appeal of the songs themselves and the talented Stellar* line-up of Kurt Shanks, Chris van de Geer and Andrew McLaren. 'Magic Line' has a more natural feel to it than 'Mix' with whole live-to-tape drum tracks and distorted guitars. Although the band now have their own Pro Tools set-up, the tracks were also recorded in a much shorter time than 'Mix' - only four months on a tight daily regime from start to finish, giving a more cohesive flow to the overall sound. Are You Waiting, All it Takes, Star, Imperfect and One More Day are pure pop rock and contrast well with thoughtful, slower tracks such as Taken, Lightspeed, and the beautiful and moving If I Could, one of Runga's finest ballads. 'Magic Line' is great listening for summer and should bring Stellar* the radio airplay and international acclaim this top New Zealand act deserves.