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CD: Magazine - No Thyself | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Magazine - No Thyself

CD: Magazine - No Thyself

Post-punks return after 30 years with an album of grace and substance

Magazine: as luminously dark as a Redon flower painting

How thrilling to hear you again, gentleman. Can it really have been 30 years? Yet within half a song, the emotional and cerebral connections are re-established in my brain as post-punk’s least punky band present their shiny new songs for our amusement and amazement. However, my job is to resist the inexorable pull of nostalgia: some objectivity is required if this review is to be of any worth to anyone under 45.

In other words; do Devoto and co still cut the mustard in the 21st century?

There’s nothing here as John Barry bombastic as “Shot by Both Sides” or as icily disconnected as “Permafrost”. But such unreasonably high expectations aside, No Thyself is as darkly glistening and awkwardly majestic as one could have dared to hope for. So what, if anything, has changed? Well, rock’s Donald Pleasance is more deliciously, perversely funny, which, paradoxically, makes it much easier to take this comeback seriously. For example, on “Other Thematic Material” he peers through the lace curtains of suburban Manchester to describe in graphic detail the banal sexual shenanigans therein. And on “Hello Mister Curtis” he expresses approval of Ian Curtis's and Kurt Cobain’s chosen ways of departing this life, before softly crooning that he also has no intentions of dying like Elvis “on some godforsaken toilet”. Would any of today’s art-house songwriters have the imagination or gall to venture into such murky terrain?

Elsewhere, Devoto’s lyrics slip and slide from the woozily sublime to the ribald ridiculous, like those comic-surreal sentences we’ve all spoken in our sleep. Noko makes McGeoch’s absence less felt (using the same amp and instrument as the band’s original guitarist, who died in 2004) to summon similarly well-crafted fills and soaring solos that fit the Magazine template well. And Dave Formula also sticks to the formula, resurrecting what were once cool state-of-the-technology keyboard sounds but are now cool retro keyboard sounds. So, yes, No Thyself is as luminously dark as a Redon flower painting.

Post punk’s least punky band present their shiny new songs for our amusement and amazement


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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'McGeoch...who died in 1980' - his demise was certainly premature, and a sad loss, but I think you'll find he lived until 2004. He left Magazine to join Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1980.

Of course you're absolutely right, George. Thanks for pointing out my silly error.

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