An impersonator is in many regards, a fraud. When someone tries to imitate something or someone, when they mimic a certain kind of quality, it’s hardly ever a sincere kind of endorsement. For Canadian duo Majical Cloudz, the act of impersonation is perhaps a jokingly, almost mockingly, kind of foreword. The bedroom pop duo’s new album resonates all kinds of feelings and sentiments but yet, being a fraud isn’t what Majical Cloudz seem to be impersonating. Whatever kind of notion they want to evoke on Impersonator, they succeed in creating the kind of album that is both parts ambient relaxation and 80s-inspired pop.
For starters, most of the songs on Impersonator are richly layered, slow-moving ambient pieces where the only true movement comes from singer-songwriter Devon Welsh. Songs like the moody “Illusion” find Welsh supported by pedal tones and a cloud of atmosphere; his voice acting as the main proponent to the song’s slow-burning epitome. And although everything on here comes off as rather simple, the subtle practicality that Majical Cloudz infiltrate is a burning sensation. You keep waiting for some kind of explosion, some kind of bellow, some kind of release on “Bugs Don’t Buzz” but instead you get the crystal-clear picture of bugs that, well, don’t buzz. Welsh’s voice is a towering figure: one that is unassuming and unafraid of failing – the low rumble of the bass on the aforementioned is where the buzz finally comes.
The few times that a bubbling synthesizer or standout beat – or both – appears, like on “Childhood’s End,” make Impersonator a cooling success. If the entire album was filled with the aforesaid moving pictures that take up very little space and hardly ever feature much else, than it be easy to say that the impersonation is definitely forced. However, on “Childhood’s End” we’re greeted with keyboards disguised as flourishing strings and an even-keel pace that never wears down. Welsh’s voice still comes through as the beacon of light but only this time, it’s compellingly supported. This happens again on “Mister” with an 80s-inspired rhythm and stellar background vocals. These kinds of moments almost sound like Twin Shadow in fine form but Welsh’s voice is arguably stronger and thus, they justly enable the flow to smoothly careen.
It’s probably true that Impersonator was the act of playfully presenting Majical Cloudz’s new idea and for the most part, everything glistens with a forlorn touch. The music on here is mellow enough to relax to, upbeat enough to dance to and blended well enough to get lost in. And for the most part maybe that’s the kind of impersonation Majical Cloudz was going for: the kind that recalls the lost luster of the 80s with an honest perspective of looking forward. It’s refreshing and still, a fine listen; Impersonator is in the end, its own refined identity.
“Childhood’s End” by Majical Cloudz