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magicwands illuminate
Artist: Magic Wands
Title: Illuminate
Genre: Shoegaze / Dream Pop / New Wave / Post Punk
Release Date: 4th December 2020
Label: Majestic 7 Records

Album Review

A new band to my well-seasoned ears, MAGIC WANDS surfaced out of the subconscious of Chris and Dexy Valentine in the year 2011. They are influenced by the sounds of the 80s, New Wave and Post Punk. Music with a futuristic flare grabbed their collective attention to the point where they had to get up and create something themselves that evoked and added something new and personal to what had come before. This album is their first self-produced affair and was put together over six months in their home studio. The album follows the release of three singles ‘Blue Cherry’, ‘Angel Dust’ and ‘Cyan Blue’, all of which feature on the album. And I must say I like it. In their own words they have tried to steer clear of “reality within reality”. One thing to note, the cover looks like Courtney Love gate-crashed a NIRVANA photoshoot. Anyway...

Proceedings open with the track ‘Honeymoon’. It alludes to relaxed shoulders and floppy fringes that hide a barely perceptible smile fighting to release itself from the chains that are the facial muscles. THE CURVE-like vocals meander to an abrupt stop. Brief respite and then ‘Blue Cherry’ regresses to an earlier 80s Electro sound. Simple structures pulled along by a drum kit rim tap. Reminds me of the dance around handbags ritual so fondly adhered to by girls of that era! The vocal is a glassy eyed affair that is a bit soporific, not in a bad way though. And then we come to ‘Angel Dust’ with its fuzzy tone and finger clicking beat along with a lazy lip curling confidence. 3 minutes thereabouts is just the right length for this track.

‘Paradise’ comes over all dreamy like a gauze curtain draped in front of your view whilst a faint FLOCK OF SEAGULLS vibe filters through the gaps in the cloth. But it’s buttery as well. ‘Psychic Alien’ is a filler track that links into the title track ‘Iluminate’. This is where bob and duck dancing come to the fore. You know, the dance where foot movements are sparse and you just duck down or bob the head in time to the snare. The pace is again dreamy and lazy along with the glassy eyed introspection. ‘Bat Babby’ is a more poppy affair that has a B52’s coursing right through it. My arms strike Egyptian poses as I jump around the living room shaking my head like a twat on crack. Then as abruptly as the track stops, I stop daydreaming…

‘Magic Flower’ comes next and now we have a CURE vibe from the ‘Head On The Door’ era. The bass is a simple affair that chugs along ably accompanied by atmospheric guitar, I think this is my fav track so far. And then ‘Queen Of The Gypsies’ takes me back further to around the time of ‘Japanese Whispers’. I love this even more. Satisfyingly jingly jangly. It also has a ‘Non Stop Erotic Cabernet’ vibe about it sans the sleaze. Finally, ‘The Beach’. I am standing on a beach, up to my shins in water as it breaks on my limbs and splashes my torso, salty droplets go up my nose and I inadvertently breath them in, choking. My arms, once outstretched, now hold my throat. No vocals here, just the beachy imagery.

This is alright, I wouldn’t throw it out of my cd collection, it has its place waiting for the right moment to flip out and play, i.e., those lazy hazy days and nights when my mind wanders into its own realms to meet the denizens that dwell there. Chris Valentine says that the sound is like a daydream where you are still aware of what’s going on around you, or words to that effect. I’d say that I’d have to be shaken out of my reverie although some tracks still have the capacity to hook me into two worlds. I’ll leave you to work out which ones! Also, the mix does come across muddy sporadically instead of dreamy and some tracks terminate abruptly rather than taper out. But all in all, it’s a good album! No new ground is broken, a lot of stuff I listen to breaks no new ground but at least if you are going to make steak and chips and I eat it then you’ve done well!


01. Honeymoon
02. Blue Cherry
03. Angel Dust
04. Paradise
05. Psychic Alien
06. Illuminate
07. Bat Babby
08. Magic Flower
09. Queen Of The Gypsies
10. The Beach


Chris Valentine - Guitars, Vocals
Dexy Valentine - Guitars, Keyboards and Vocals


Cover Picture

magicwands illuminate


Music: 7.5
Sound: 7.5
Total: 7.5 / 10

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