PURSON — Desire's Magic Theatre (review)

PURSON — Desire's Magic Theatre album cover Album · 2016 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Nightfly
When I first came across Purson a couple of years back, particularly with the name I was expecting another outfit in the vein of the current trend of female fronted occult heavy rock bands. I think one of the first things I heard was Leaning On A Bear from their debut “The Circle And The Blue Door” which didn’t dispel my original pre-conception but on hearing their debut in full it became apparent that Purson whilst sharing the psych tendencies of many of those bands were heading down a different road and a much more commercial proposition with an emphasis on catchy melodies. Sure, they had the heavier moments but they sat alongside retro pop a la sixties – early seventies style.

Desire’s Magic Theatre takes a further step away from heavy rock and is much more of a psychedelic progressive pop album in the vein of the Small Faces Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake and The Beatles Sgt Pepper. Very much rooted in the sixties it reminds me of Thursday evenings as a child sat watching Top Of The Pops. This was in the days when you could be commercial and innovative at the same time. The album works best as a whole and full of catchy songs like the Glitter Band stomp of opening title track which could be what Goldfrapp might sound like if they used traditional instruments, that is until it shifts into more of a swing vein augmented by complimentary organ and flute work. Also high on my likes list is Mr Howard which from a Chicory Tip (Son Of My Father fame) opening goes into a trippy psych workout. Electric Landlady is about as heavy as it gets, which could have sat comfortably on their debut. Album Closer, The Bitter Suite stretches things out to seven minutes and twists and turns through many changes and is a snapshot of most of what this band is about. Frontwoman Rosalie Cunningham, a fine vocalist, is clearly in charge here and has a strong vision of how she wants her band to sound. In fact she plays most of the instruments herself barring drums and some guitar and bass work on a few tracks, presumably the rest of the band being there for live purposes only. Something that being a musician myself I would take objection too.

Purson are quite unique in today’s music scene, which sounds a bit contradictory when they sound totally retro but there’s not really anyone else I know of that are doing this kind of stuff these days. Fans of heavier music may find them a bit too poppy but if your tastes also stretch into prog and pop territory then you may find much to enjoy here. Desire’s Magic Theatre is a very good album which I enjoy very much but with no real killer tracks standing out I’m not blown away by it – pretty much like their debut in that respect, the superb Spiderwood Farm aside, the bands highpoint to this day.
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