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Majical Cloudz : Impersonator

It’s a common misconception that all singers can sing: ever since Bob Dylan wailed his way into the charts half a century ago, we’ve been presented with a succession of iconic vocalists (from Neil Young and Lou Reed through to John Lydon, Morrissey and Kurt Cobain) whose ability to command an audience’s attention clearly had nothing to do with the amount of time they had spent practicing their scales and as such – as fans of “alternative” music – we’ve grown so accustomed to voices that would probably offend our grandparents’ sensibilities that it’s easy to forget what a “good” singer actually sounds like. As a result, listening to Impersonator, the gorgeous, haunting new album from Montreal-based duo Majical Cloudz, is something of a revelation. Frontman Devon Walsh sings so simply and yet so beautifully that the whole experience feels almost surreal; rich and crystal clear, as deep as the ocean and just as blue, Walsh’s voice presents itself naked and challenges you not to stare. It’s the kind of voice that could bring a tear to your eye, that could warm you like a blanket or chill you to the bone, and Walsh uses it sparingly, deliberately, to hold the listener rapt as he shares some of his darkest and most intimate secrets. Over bandmate Matthew Otto’s minimal musical backdrops (ghostly loops, restrained electric piano), Walsh bravely bears his soul about feelings of self-doubt (“Turns Turns Turns“), hope, loss (“Childhood’s End“), fear – of rejection, of monsters under the bed, of death – and of love, always love; “bravely” not just because the sparse arrangements leave no shadows to hide any imperfections in his vocals, but also because his lyrics are so emotionally stark (“If life could be forever one instant/ Would it be the moment you met me?”/ No my love“) that a less confident singer might feel embarrassed voicing them in such intimate surroundings. Of course, whilst most of us are afraid to broadcast the fact, those kind of feelings are universal, and it’s to Walsh’s credit as both a writer and performer that he can appear to be singing these songs to each one of us directly: our own personal arias, mining the dark depths of the soul to achieve ecstatic catharsis at both ends of the microphone. Somber and majestic, heartbreaking and uplifting, Impersonator is one of the loveliest, most moving records in years; listen to “Bugs Don’t Buzz” below.

Impersonator is out May 21 via Matador, and is currently streaming in full via Pitchfork Advance.

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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

One response to “Majical Cloudz : Impersonator

  1. Pingback: #NewMusicTuesday – May 21st | Music Streetlight

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