I don't know whether the name of the band or the name of the album is more interesting to me. Magnet conjures this idea that everyone will be attracted to this band-a band that is in fact the sum total of one man, Evan Johansen. And, it isn't a bad description of the band. There is something undeniably appealing in these simple pop songs. But there is something there that is also repelling in this name beyond the arrogance that is hidden there. A feeling of security and comfort is easily gleaned from these pop pieces of perfection but-hidden in the lyrics-Johansen reveals his truer, darker self.
Ignoring the newly added track, "This Bird Will Never Fly", available only on this new American release of the album and not on the original European releases, The Tourniquet starts with a song of hope. In "Hold On", Johansen sings first to himself and then to us 'We'll get through this if we hang on/The truth is we're not alone.' And that belief that if he can just get through this one thing then everything will get better gives the listener hope. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that. Johansen knowingly winks and smiles to the listener as if to say 'You and I aren't that different. Let's be strong. It will be alright.' But in truth, by the end of the album, we see that this isn't a story about things getting better but seeing that things are going to get bad because he makes the same bad choices. Everytime.
In "Duracellia", Johansen sings about a lover that has cheated on him in the past but he is here anyway because '…I'm still going strong at going wrong/Don't matter if you leave or if you stay/I'm going to love you either way.' Johansen enters the relationship with both eyes open because he recognizes how this relationship isn't good for him. In "The Pacemaker", Johansen knows he isn't on the path to the healthy relationship that you might expect. 'Take my hand, and I will mellow/Cause only you can hold me like a tourniquet/And make me stay, here with you.' Not exactly the type of relationship you would take home to mother. In fact, it could the relationship you have with your mother. I don't know your situation.
It is the repelling and attracting quality of Magnet's music that really makes it such a success. It would be very easy to listen to this music and miss the darker layer underneath the bubbly exterior. But to do so is to cheat oneself of the full texture this album provides. I don't think it is forging any new ground musically or thematically but sometimes doing what you do well is enough.