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Track by Track Review of Magana’s “Teeth” 

Los Angeles based multi-instrumental artist Jeni Magaña, under the solo project Magana, released her second album Teeth with Audio Antihero Records. She describes the album as “witchy rock”, meshed with infusions of acid folk, alternative pop, and krautrock. The songs within the album express tendencies toward chamber like and orchestra driven tonalities. These complement Magaña’s honeyed, carefree vocals.

These compositions evoke a sense of musicality that is ethereal, delicate, and cosmically spacey. From having toured as a bassist for the likes of Mitski and Lady Lamb, while simultaneously being a part of the pen pin pop duo alongside Emily Moore, Magaña conveys a versatility that is harbored through her fluency in a myriad of various sound techniques. These clearly show in the diverse array of what Teeth has to offer. 

Teeth kicks off with “Garden”, starting with a simple strumming pattern, attributing to an ominous yet mellow rhythm scheme. As the lyrics state “I will plant those seeds tomorrow/Watch my garden grow,” this song makes for a warm welcome. Magaña sings this hymn like tune about developing something out of one’s own creation, much like how she had crafted this album as a pandemic project. Although the track is basic in essence, Magaña’s vocals redeem the piece by how earthy and dainty it sounds melody wise.

Image via Audio Antihero

The next song “Beside You” immediately begins with a much more vibrant, uplifting harmony that is spearheaded by a tapping piano and guitar with heavy overdrive and distortion. In the foreground of the song, there’s a groovy bassline that despite its subtleness, is a prominent distinction that makes the song more enlivened and light in mood. As Magaña sings “The future’s unknown/And I’m worried about it too/But you’re not alone,” she expounds on ruminations toward uncertainty and doubt of what’s to come. This is all within the pretense of figuring out how to proceed and go on with one’s life moving forward. 

Following that, the track “Matter” promotes more chordal qualities as it sets out a complex composition that includes pounding drums, guiding the rest of the instruments toward a path of monumental build-up. In this one, Magaña exudes more conflictions in the lyrics as she cites “I swore that I would never be like my mother/With all the weight upon my back/But it won’t matter, does it matter if it’s bad?” It discusses the intricacies of dealing with one’s dynamic with another person. This feeling of being lost within a relationship is compared to drowning. 

The track “Paul” returns to a slower pace that is looming and gentle in flow and tempo. Magaña sings “Paul, where did you go/When it was driving you insane/And I remember where I was when they first told me/You took those pills to kill your pain.” This is while being accompanied by a roomy guitar, airy flute, crystalline piano, and tender humming. It touches on what is essentially a heartbreaking tale of someone who suffers from drug abuse. The line comes from someone who loves passionately, their story of fading away under the seam of marriage embarks on a bittersweet narrative. 

Image via Audio Antihero

“Break Free” lets out more funky riffs and twisted, warped contortions of sound. Magaña sings about every day feeling similar and monotonous, placing emphasis on what it is like for one to want to escape their daily bubble, as they crave for something more. The adjacent track “I Feel Like Ice”, is more so an instrumental. A dialogue that emulates a robotic, static-ridden voice buzzes out the message of the song’s title highlighting sensations of isolation and loneliness when placed in a position remote from the rest of the world. 

This perfectly bleeds into “To My Love” which sits upon a bed of cozy, homey guitar, and organs seasoned with reverb and resonance. Eventually, the drums make the song more boosted, as trumpet and violin come in to make the musicality of the song more elegant and graceful than it already is. One might believe this to be a love song that alludes to a romance too profound to describe, and even perhaps, too deep to pursue. 

The song dubbed “In My Body” has the bass take the lead, with a piercing synthline entering at odd intervals. While Magaña sings “And I feel somehow less than human/I am in body/not just this body,” she explicates what is the emotion of dissociation and detachment from a person’s own grasp of self, as they navigate something significant that had previously defined them for the longest of times. For the connecting song “Bones”, a more chimeric piano enters the ear, as her vocals here are more layered. She states “I’m nothing but bone/Now I’m alone/I want to go home,” transmitting the inkling of emptiness and vacancy within one’s soul when found at a brink of near unconsciousness. 

“I Cannot Breathe” allows for punchy, buzzing synths rippling into effect, as Magaña says “I’m a savior in my dreams/But I never sleep,” and “I’m not standing in the rain/But I cannot breathe/I cannot see,” exploring the theme of being close to losing contact with reality. Towards its closure, the track includes a short sample that has blurry talking in the surrounding setting, like dissociating in a crowded room, full of foggy, fuzzed-out entities. 

The song “Afraid of Everybody” presents itself with wavy, meandering, and winding waves of timbre, which goes with the zestful, potent stretches of striking drums. The clean, soft piano creates a serene symphony. The song promotes sensibilities toward questions of identity and finding oneself through experimentation and discovery. It generally lays commentary on what it’s like to feel alien, much like an anomaly. 

Image via Audio Antihero

The subsequent track “Mary Anne” incorporates more hollow and wispy feelings, paired with balmy, peaceful guitar. The track communicates to another person who drags other people into their own struggles, having the pain be endured together. This song is raw and unfiltered, as it permits the gnawing sounds of the recording and of Magaña’s breaths in between lyrics to pervade the audio with no remorse.

“xxo” is an instrumental track of cyber computer sounds that preamble the closing track “Girl in Chains”, which makes for an ever devil-may-care exit with jaunty, breezy synth lines that convey the feeling of being set free and letting loose. As Magaña sings “I am just a girl in chains/Waiting for the spell to break,” one can see that she musters up the courage to confront her demons head-on, with the confession first. This is what most of Teeth is, a testimony to one’s bravery in facing what they have always feared, and trying to find a way to escape from one’s own isolation.