Those unfamiliar with the sonic charms of Purson may wonder if the glut of praise engulfing the Southend quintet is garnered mainly by mystical talisman Rosalie Cunningham. There’s more than enough retrograde magic oozing from the pores of second album Desire’s Magic Theatre (Spinefarm Records), however, to justify the hype.Steeped in Folk-Pop whimsy, ‘Electric Landlady’s blend of mid-70s Glam and Prog is graced with oscillating organ notes: its wistful melodies leaning towards All About Eve, alongside Cunningham’s Julianne Regan-like plaintiveness. The vocal lines of the Folky, progressive ‘The Sky Parade’ possess that band’s brittle, striking harmonies and evoke their halcyon days beautifully, whilst the body of the track retains an eerie chord structure and pungent atmospheres. ‘The Way It Is’ and ‘Mr Howard’, however, bring comparison with the Indie-Pop of Regan’s short-lived Mice project: despite this, the Psychedelia coursing through the album increases the heavy feel of the latter’s rhythms.
Creativity abounds throughout: ‘Dead Dodo Down’ intersperses circus-style cascades with the brassy quirks of Tori Amos circa Boys For Pele (Atlantic / East West), all underpinned with that heady whiff of patchouli oil. Indeed, it’s not the only nod to the Goddess of Heartbreaking Piano: ‘Pedigree Chums’ remains rooted in the …Pele experimentation, seedy sax embellishing a lazy, hypnotic delivery and Raphael Mura’s mesmeric drum sequences. The languid, swaying ‘The Window Cleaner’ and closer ‘The Bitter Suite’, meanwhile, perfectly embody the retro, ‘60s Hippie’ feel, possessing subtle Eastern progressions and an air of The Doors’ lighter moments. ‘…Suite’ is the most experimental chapter: moving passages accompanied by flute solos and Jazz inflections, whilst the elongated bridge is reminiscent of Bugsy Malone’s introspective scenes.
Nobody, however, can deny the influence of latter-day Beatles on the whole set. The dreamy ‘I Know’, its gently infectious vocal marrying with a ‘Sgt Pepper’-style centrepiece, is the greatest example: but the hallmark is everywhere and, strangely, it’s no bad thing when conducted by such a free, mischievous spirit. Radiating sunshine from even its most melancholy moments, Desire’s Magic Theatre will delight anyone who yearns for that 70s quirkiness to infect their lush, harmonic heaviness.
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