John Grant – Love is Magic

The Michigan-born singer has returned to the inner-complexities of his bizarre mind.
Label: Bella Union
Released: 12th October 2018
Rating: ★★★★

Since releasing his debut back in 2010, John Grant has been nominated for a BRIT Award, curated his own experimental festival in Hull and even duetted with Kylie Minogue. Now on to his fourth album, in the form of ‘Love is Magic’, the Michigan-born singer has returned to the inner-complexities of his bizarre mind, mixing his unique lyricism with an onslaught of synths that goes far beyond his trademark frequencies. 

This is seen immediately on the record’s opener ‘Metamorphosis’ where a reflectional dreamlike segment is bookended by various dramatised allusions that wouldn’t look out of place in a verse of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’. Using this contrast as an analogy for the “mess” that is the human brain, it is just one of the many examples of Grant’s infectious spark, with his clear love of language seeping through on every track. 

Similarly, weaving in and out of the traumas and tribulations of relationships along the way, the Icelandic resident holds no punches, never being one to shy away from using colourful language to convey his point. Noticeably, it is during the James Murphy-esque rant of album highlight ‘Diet Gum’ where we see Grant in his element, delivering lines such as “I’d rather dig out my own spleen with a butter knife” with a sassiness and wit that remains unparalleled. 

The presence of “synth expert” Ben Edwards only adds to this with his ability to create weird and wonderful sounds equal to that of Grant’s melodies, playing an invaluable role across the record. Whether it’s in the 80s inspired mood of ‘He’s Got His Mother’s Hips’ or the euphoric grandeur of the album’s title-track, the two of them, along with bassist/co-producer Paul Alexander, create a world that not only absorbs and portrays the turbulence of some of humanity’s most basic feelings and emotions, but also manages to retain Grant’s key message that “in spite of it all, love is still magic.”

Dominic Allum

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