I’ve been in love with Purson since I listened to them in preparation for their show with Ghost which I attended. With captivating melodies, excellent songwriting, and effective instrumentation, they are definitely the best new psych rock group out there. Anticipation for their second full-length, Desire’s Magic Theatre has been building up, partially due to a number of delays. It is finally here, and wow I can’t believe my ears. This album is nearly flawless. Seriously, if you are at all into music, you have to check out this album.
I enjoyed their first album, The Circle and the Blue Door, which contained some killer tracks like “The Contract”, “Spiderwood Farm”, (I can’t stop listening to that one) and “Well Spoiled Machine”. Tracks like these won me over right away once I gave them a spin. Though Circle had some stand-out numbers, there were a few songs that I don’t really go back to. Desire’s Magic Theatre has no filler in it and every song is truly distinct. The variety on this album is on point, has all the right types of tracks: you got your trippy, druggy moments like in “Pedigree Chums”, fast-paced, high octane numbers like “Electric Landlady” and the title track, and your soft calming tunes like “The Sky Parade” and “I Know”.
One of the stand out and noticeable features is front woman Rosalie Cunningham‘s vocals. She has a stunning voice and casts a spell with every vocal melody she sings. She also recorded most of the album herself, which is pretty impressive considering the versatility. The record also features horns throughout, which gives it a nice touch, bringing it levels above other psych albums out these days. Even some woodwinds are brought in for good measure. The keyboards as usual give the songs that extra punch. All of these layers are intricately woven for an exemplary soundscape.
The songwriting is some of the strongest I’ve ever heard. Purson paints an illustrious picture with every note. There is not one boring “been there, done that” lick to be heard. The record does have the usual psych rock elements, but mixes them together so well and it feels very fresh. It’s a strange combination of old and new. They’re retro of course, but there’s an intrigue that completely supersedes that label.
My favorite tracks are the first two. The opening two minutes of the album are amazing. The title track starts with a hypnotic barrage of psych riffage. It’s like being guided into a strange hallucinogenic world. The rest of the song waxes and wanes through the journey, albeit in a less intense way. “Electric Landlady” which follows is equally stunning. It’s a nice pun from Hendrix‘s Electric Ladyland. This number was released last year with a neat music video. The Beatles‘ influence is strong in this one, and Rosalie sounds similar to John Lennon at some points. The lyrics are fun too with the line “Her curtains made out of the fabric of time”. There’s so much energy with this one, unrelenting in its whimsicality.
There are all kinds of highlights throughout the album. “The Window Cleaner” has a really catchy refrain, I could see this one being a radio hit. A somewhat by-the-numbers track like “The Way It Is” I feel like I wouldn’t normally enjoy, but Purson just has their special touch that I can’t get enough of. The closer “The Bitter Suite” starts out moody and downtrodden, but gets into an upbeat guitar and piano swing, followed by a slow dance section. Gotta love the variety Purson delivers.
I’ve been listening to this record non-stop ever since I was graced with it by the music gods. Desire’s Magic Theatre is my favorite record of the year so far and it’s nearly perfect. The delays on the release were well worth it. Purson further proves there’s still territory to explore in psychedelic rock. They show that the genre is alive and well. I can’t wait to see them in a live setting again. The Summer of Love isn’t over.
1. Desire’s Magic Theatre
2. Electric Landlady
3. Dead Dodo Down
4. Pedigree Chums
5. The Sky Parade
6. Window Cleaner
7. The Way it Is
8. Mr Howard
9. I Know
10. The Bitter Suite
Rosalie Cunningham – Vocals/Guitar
George Hudson – Guitar
Raphael Mura – Bass
Justin Smith – Drums
Samuel Shove – Keyboards