thu 20/06/2019

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

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Comments

'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.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters