Review : Magazine - No Thyself
PopmattersThe titular pun, allusive and mocking, literate and “classic” in at least a double sense, typifies this pioneering post-punk band’s approach. Howard Devoto’s adenoidal delivery, his poetic or satirical lyrics, and his direction of a band bent on keyboard-guitar dominated aggravation make their fifth album (the first in nearly three decades since their heyday), as consistent as ever. Whether this wins them new fans as much as woos old ones remains uncertain. Magazine’s a group committed to an uncompromising attitude transmitted through an arch form of dense New Wave, while backing ex-Buzzcocks founder Devoto’s willfully theatrical, petulant, or defiant poses.
“Do the Meaning” begins with a hint of Public Image Ltd’s guitar swirl, its riff connecting with a keyboard-driven sound reminiscent of their standard style. A chunkier, stuttering guitar characterized the innovations of late original guitarist John McGeoch; his successor Noko—who paired with a solo Devoto in Luxuria—remains faithful to this direction. This continues on the next track, appropriately named “Other Thematic Material”. However, Devoto’s preference for a sparer, theatrical mood often slowed the pace of Magazine’s albums. Here, “The Worst of Progress” follows this form. Discordant tones fill many songs, even if “Hello Mister Curtis (With Apologies)” integrates piano chords that hint at George Benson’s version of “On Broadway” of all tunes (at least to these ears).
Despite Devoto’s mannered articulation and phrasing, “Physics” manages to be nearly a ballad by comparison with most of this album. “Religion, it wasn’t meant for everyone” becomes the refrain, and no lyric sheet’s needed to make that message out (I didn’t receive one with my download). “Happening in English” fits into the band’s typical early ‘80s style, with some nods to a more tribal percussion from that era’s John Doyle, who returns on drums. Dave Formula, their loyal keyboardist, contributes the most to keeping this reunion record close to its predecessors. He joins with Noko’s lively guitar and new recruit Jon “Stan” White on bass (although the talents of original member Barry Adamson are missed) for “Holy Dotage”, which is the album’s punchiest song....full text
GuardianThe man who brought punk to Manchester, Howard Devoto once said that Magazine's albums were designed to be timeless, which may explain why his second group (after Buzzcocks) have successfully picked up the baton after 30 years. No Thyself could be the fourth album they should have made instead of 1981's Magic, Murder and the Weather, which badly missed departed John McGeoch. Here, guitarist Noko and bassist John "Stan" White (replacing Barry Adamson, who had film commitments) help recapture the sonic blueprint laid down on the first three classic albums: urgent post-punk on Holy Dotage and statuesque keyboards on Of Course Howard. Other Thematic Material sounds too familiar for comfort, but the sweetly lovely Physics explores new territory for them. Devoto's lyrics are as disdainfully, disturbingly, comically self-mocking as ever. In Hello Mister Curtis he ponders the bravery of Curtis and Cobain, admitting that his own fate will probably be to die like a King, "on some Godforsaken toilet." Not yet, hopefully. ...full text
BbcWhen Howard Trafford aka Howard Devoto helped invent punk rock, he immediately did the most punk thing possible. He quit his band the Buzzcocks as their classic debut EP Spiral Scratch was being released in early 1977. While the rest of the Sex Pistols’ naughty offspring busied themselves with three-chord thrashings, the filth and the fury, Devoto formed a band, Magazine, that sounded like Bond soundtrack composer John Barry conducting Roxy Music, accentuated his bookish intellectualism and eschewed splenetic agitprop in favour of caustic, obtuse and sinister songs about the meaning of life, love, sex and the eternal disappointment that is the stupidity of other people. He became the nerdish anti-hero of literate post-punk boys.
Sadly though, there were never enough of us to make Devoto into the rock star he seemed destined to be. After three great albums (Real Life, Secondhand Daylight and The Correct Use of Soap), one good live album (Play) and one final, confused and unfocussed set (Magic, Murder and the Weather), Magazine split in 1981 and Devoto entered his long wilderness years interrupted by the odd solo project and disappointing collaborations.
The post-punk revival of the last decade finally saw the inevitable Magazine reunion in 2009. Although John McGeoch’s death in 2004 ensured that the classic line-up could not get onstage and beguile old fans and new with a show based around their Real Life debut, Devoto, Dave Formula (keyboards), John Doyle (drums) and Barry Adamson were joined by Devoto’s Luxuria guitarist Noko. The success of the shows ensured the arrival of No Thyself, the first new Magazine album in 30 years and a powerful reminder of why the Devoto cult has endured....full text
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