John Grant

Love Is Magic

Partisan

Oct 16, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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The thing about John Grant is no one has quite figured out what the thing about John Grant is. He's described his new album as "more of an amalgamation of who I am" providing the perfect riposte to those who believe we find ourselves as teenagers before settling into a mold for the rest of life.

Grant is 50 now and still moving, reaching for something else. Love Is Magic finds that something else in a mix of dreamy '80s electro-pop layered with driving beats and wide-ranging lyrics switching between heartfelt, incredulous, and profane. This isn't the mournful, literate rock (well it is still literate) of his years in The Czars, nor is it the piano led balladeering of his early solo career.

The sound of the '80s has been creeping into his music for some time, and here it comes fully forward. Just don't expect the vapid end of the New Pop explosion. Not that this fourth solo record doesn't start with an explosion of sorts. "Metamorphosis" comes with a depressing trawl through state of the world headlines, jumping from rape cases to "baby's in the Whitest House playing with his toys."

It's sharp and prickly, a common occurrence. This is an album that lands with a thump on tracks like "Preppy Boy" and "Smug Cunt," the latter offering no prizes for guessing what Grant thinks about the commander-in-chief.

But even with jagged lyrics, the music shifts between swooning synths and funky beats. Love is very much on Grant's mind as well. The closer, "Touch and Go" attempts to get into the head of Chelsea Manning, while the gorgeous title track comes with the chorus "love is magic/whether you like it or not."

Right there, Grant gives us his synthpop troubadour, a persona soaring between bleak and soulful. Enjoy it before he shifts again, then enjoy that, because the thing about John Grant is whatever he does, the music is always great. (www.johngrantmusic.com)

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