Personnel: Steve Harwell (vocals); Mike Krompass (guitar, keyboards, drums, drum programming, background vocals); Michael Klooster, Juan Portela (keyboards); Randy Cooke (drums); Andrew Fromm, Jennifer Paige, Stephen Vickers, Shawn Mayer, Storm Gardiner, Paul DeLisle (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Mike Krompass.
Recording information: Barefoot Studios, Hollywood, CA; Narnia; Sound Management Studios; The Playground Studio, Spring Hill, TN.
Smash Mouth's fondness of -- and talent for -- novelties tends to obscure their other sunkissed gifts, how they have a knack for creating a soundtrack for an endless summer. Magic, the group's first album since 2006 -- they split after the release of Summer Girl but it sounds like they never went away -- is hampered ever so slightly by those novelties, as the group takes an easy swipe at "Justin Bieber" (it's never a good idea for a group pegged by some as a one-hit wonder to take a potshots at another) and does a by-the-numbers cover of Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)," a couple of cuts that play into all the negative stereotypes of the bands. And that's what makes the rest of Magic a bit of a surprise: it's as effortlessly effervescent as anything else Smash Mouth has ever released, filled with grooving, organ-fueled beach party anthems. Smash Mouth may stumble slightly when they strive for a power ballad -- "Out of Love," arriving halfway through the record, has a solid, sweeping chorus that the band doesn't quite pull off -- but their traditional blend of '60s garage rock and '80s new wave still provides a breezy good time on "Perfect Planet," "Live to Love Another Day," "Magic," and "Future X Wife." Perhaps it won't change the mind of the haters, but those fans who have stayed true to the SoCal popsters will undoubtedly be pleased. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine