“I’m a liar/I say I make music,” pronounces Devon Welsh on “Impersonator”. The words glide in a field of gyroscopic vocal loops. This is a song constructed by artificially manipulating the voice over time. It’s an illusion. Is it music? Music’s mechanics, after all, are slippery. A rehearsed performance engenders spontaneous emotion and a recorded song works on us differently each time we listen. The form can be controlled, but the meaning can only be given space. That tension between surface and substance rattles throughout Impersonator, the debut long-player from Montreal duo Majical Cloudz.
While most fully realized in performance, Majical Cloudz’s minimal arrangements ring with depth and warmth here. Between the song’s major gestures, small ones squirma whisper of feedback or the way Welsh shapes a word. Even the busiest tracks (“Mister” and “Turns Turns Turns”) feel uncluttered. Impersonator leaves space for the listener to enter. The instrumentation tilts and swells just enough to support the lyrics, themselves stripped bare. They’re a canvas for our emotions; they ask us to spill.
“Silver Rings” lets just two sentences circle each other while synths breathe beneath them. “I don’t think about dying alone,” Welsh sings, as if daring us to think about just that. On “Childhood’s End”, life-changing trauma is painted with the plainest syntax: “Your father, he is dead.” The melody deepens the language, Welsh’s voice heavy and rich.
The tension crystallizes at the first piano strike of “Bugs Don’t Buzz”. Here, Welsh pits fake grins against real ones, transient love against the permanence of death. Both cheesy songs and happy songs end with smiles. The meaning is not in the gesture, but what it does, the way it reaches us. Music is not an objectit’s an action.
By paring pop music to its core human elements, Majical Cloudz has written a record that’s bare enough to breathe inside. Feeling thrives in the blankness: that’s Impersonator’s paradox.
Essential Tracks: “Childhood’s End”, “Bugs Don’t Buzz”, and “Notebook”