Magnapop’s new album, The Circle Is Round, is the Atlanta-based group’s debut release for HHBTM Records, and is their sixth album, coming nearly a decade after their previous record, 2009’s Chase Park. Prior to this, the group had a fruitful run during the Alternative Rock heyday of the mid-90s, finding critical acclaim with 1994’s Hotboxing (with single Slowly, Slowly) and 1996’s Rubbing Doesn’t Help, which featured their most beloved song, Open The Door. And although the phrase was an endearing joke courtesy of slacker film Singles, Magnapop were indeed “big in Belgium,” finding enduring success that has led them to visit the Benelux region numerous times over their three decade career. (They have a tour slated for the area this September.) Yet let’s not think of it as a “comeback,” shall we?
Magnapop never really went away, appearing on the live circuit in Europe sporadically since their last release. The seeds that would blossom into The Circle Is Round were planted in 2011. “We reunited in 2011 when bassist Shannon Mulvaney contacted us about playing a benefit for Criminal Records, a local record store,” says guitarist and songwriter Ruthie Morris. “Playing together was easy, but we knew we needed time together to play our old songs again. The more we played together, the more we realized we wanted to work on new material.” The Circle Is Round was recorded at Furies Studios in Marietta, Georgia, and produced by the band and studio owner Ed Burdell—he worked with the band on one of their first recording sessions—the album came together quickly this past February. Furthermore, there’s a sense of the circular nature of existence at play, as a few of the songs are some of the band’s earliest. Change Your Hair was the very first song Linda and I ever wrote together, before there was a band,” says Morris. “Our drummer, David McNair, was the one who came up with the idea of recording it. At first it seemed like a crazy idea, but the more I listened to it, the more I thought it would be fun!” The album also includes two demos from a 1992 recording session, previously unheard until now. Longtime fans of the band will find much to love with The Circle Is Round, while new listeners will get a taste of what converted listeners way back when to become lifetime fans. “During one of our recent tours of Benelux we were interviewed on a Belgian radio program,” says Morris. “We were talking about the four of us reuniting and coming back together as a band. The interviewer said something in Flemish and he translated it as "The circle is round" to describe our situation. At first it sounded kind of funny, but the more we thought about it, the more poignant and appropriate it seemed.” Indeed.