John Grant – Love is Magic
Love is Magic is full of tender proclamations and acerbic bile, mania and zen, bouncing between emotional states with barely contained zest – it's an absolute joy to be along for the ride
John Grant's fourth solo album, Love is Magic veers headlong into the electronic flirtations that have come to characterise his last couple of records, and contains another ten glimpses into the alternately spiteful, joyous and reflective mind of its creator. Recorded in Cornwall with the help of Ben Edwards and Paul Alexander, the album is more experimental and icy in its arrangements, but retains a warm sentimentality thanks to its consistently charming personal tales.
The title track, and first single, provides a burst of honest positivity and hopefulness that threads its way through the album; despite all the bullshit, love exists and it's fucking great. For every dour and spiteful takedown (Smug Cunt's vitriol or the narrator of Diet Gum's hilariously uncertain putdowns; 'Did you really think you could seduce me in a leisure suit?' (he could)) there's an Is He Strange or The Common Snipe – two gorgeous ballads that speak to the inexpressible depth of feeling that love can bring on.
Opener Metamorphosis is demonstrative of the capricious nature of our own thought processes, bookending the staid, ruminative sincerity of its middle passage with stream-of-consciousness electro madness at either side ('Tiki bar / Rat soufflé / Buik regal / Marvin Gaye'). But, more than that, it's representative of Grant's M.O. across the whole album. Rather than a linear progression towards understanding, our mind is wont to go off on tangents (the guilty pleasure cheese-sleaze of He's Got His Mother's Hip or the Bronski Beat-ish euphoria of Preppy Boy), before arriving intermittently at moments of profundity (Touch and Go, an introspective ode to Chelsea Manning; the escapist fantasy of Tempest, or the title track's blunt, candid soul).
Love is Magic is full of tender proclamations and acerbic bile, mania and zen, bouncing between emotional states with barely contained zest. There isn't enough time across the space of one album for the contemplation that this music requires, but the spacious arrangements do their best with a wide variety of electronic affectations. Though he may be tarred, feathered and head-caged on the album cover, Grant is full of confidence and vitality, getting closer to that generally apocryphal state of “self-realisation,” and it's an absolute joy to be along for the ride.
Listen to: Love is Magic, He's Got His Mother's Hips, Is He Strange