Four is the magic number for quartet The Magic Numbers, who have just released the fourth studio album – after a four-year wait.
And frontman Romeo Stodart, the man who wrote and produced most of it, is anxious for people to hear it when the West London band head out on tour, including a date in Sheffield.
Alias follows two hit albums – their self-titled 2005 debut was nominated for the Mercury Prize, while 2006 follow-up Those the Brokes reached number 11 – and a less-successful third album, The Runaway.
Alias also marks a slight change of direction for the band, amid a time of significant change in Romeo’s life – he is now a father.
The 36-year-old says: “Having a son been a life-changer in the most positive way. He’s made my life so much more meaningful. I was lost before.”
Much of Alias was written before Romeo junior’s birth, and deals with the break-up of a long-term relationship and ensuing ‘darkness’.
Romeo says: “I’ve been dealing with my own rubbish for ages. There’s this sort of inner turmoil, as it were. I don’t want this in any way to come across like I think I’m the only person experiencing this, or the only person trying to figure out what their life means.
“What I have noticed, in writing the album and now talking about it, is getting all this out has been good.
“You let out what’s inside when you’re writing, but afterwards you can reflect on it all. I think that’s reflected in the album’s title, too.
“Coming to terms with myself is a difficult thing, and so often I’ll do something that totally contradicts that idea, but I’m getting there.
“This record is about me working through that.”
The leisurely pace of making Alias definitely helped. With no label or management watching over them, and no deadline imposed, there was little pressure.
With that came a new approach, so rather than recording in one go, the band – Romeo, hus sister Michele on bass, percussionist and singer Angela Gannon, and her brother Sean on drums – would get together for a week or so, record a couple of songs and then come back to the studio a few weeks later, to reflect on what they had done the last time then continue.
Romeo says: “I was conscious of pushing the band’s sound and doing something new for us. Otherwise we wouldn’t have made this album. I wanted to ensure I had something to say. It was important to get it right.”
The wait has also helped re-energise the band.
Romeo says: “It’s been important to step away from everything that goes with being in a band.
“For all of us, we have to live outside the band. It also means we can put life experience into our music.
We’ve all been doing other things too, other projects, family, lots of stuff. It’s good now stepping back – there’s a rejuvenated spirit.”
n Catch The Magic Numbers at The Leadmill, Leadmill Road, Sheffield city centre on Monday, September 15. For tickets, priced £15, visit www.leadmill.co.uk