Album Review: Magical Creatures Lull Us to Other Worlds with Wishing Machine

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The quixotic world of Magical Creatures is one of whispered private fairy tales from otherworldly lovers, deified by filled-in blanks and an ever-present spectral haze that softens edges and dulls the will. Much like the lotus eaters of The Iliad, Magical Creatures lull us almost supernaturally on their debut full length Wishing Machine with a myriad of guitars both flowery and direct, subtle electronic percussion that adds fluidity to each track, and airy, enchanting vocals done justice through artful production.

You can almost hear a prom night lament in the longing doo-wop allusions of “Enchant Me Baby” with its saccharine vocals and gently reassuring guitar melancholy. The distinct bravery of teenage naivete and romantic innocence perfumes lyrics about “plucking roses” and the all important question almost posed as a challenge “Would you give your life for love?” Magical Creatures inducts us into their dream with a moonlit serenade in which they’re already drunk on honey wine spiked with stardust. You can almost hear the maturation of teenage vulnerability in the cool laze of the guitars as vocals that could belong to dream girlfriends or maternal ghosts enfold us. A beat shimmering and shining with tambourine sparkle punctuates the aloof charm of “Twilight Soul” which at times recounts the painfully wasted beauty of Love and Rockets. However, the science fiction warbling of what sounds like a theremin underneath it all gives us a window into another romantic world and the track ultimately captures the sonic equivalent of an expansive sky ripening, bursting, and bleeding burning oranges, pinks, and deep violets that make kisses taste sweeter.

Magical Creatures often express a vulnerability in their music like the awkwardness of a young Dorian Gray who hasn’t quite realized how damned attractive he looks. “Birds of Paradise” artfully displays this vulnerability in its guitar strum while vocals carry an energy at once exotic and resigned, like an elegant caged bird that is the last of its kind and actually understands this. The psychedelic shoegaze nod and tastefully subtle programmed beats that give the track motion also lend a clean, refreshing quality of mellow pop modernism.

Plenty of Wishing Machine’s tracks could easily stand alone as strong singles just as they fit snugly into their place on the album. “Spiral Castle” spins a neo-psychedelic fairytale with sunny happy ending guitar lines and avian vocals softened by the purity of their plumage while the chiming psych pop of “Violet Eyes” insulates with fuzzy fullness that simultaneously sounds simple and spaceous in its haziness, further expanded by breathy vocals. “Carnival of Wolves” amplifies Magical Creatures’ charisma with colorful stained glass guitar effects and light doo-wop vocal punctuation while “Satellite City” captures the electrical optimism of new romance through a shared synchronous female and male vocal line over rolling guitar and softly rollicking percussion.

These moments of radio friendly pop perfection are equally matched by Wishing Machine’s more reflective moments. On the stellar “Bounty Hunter”, vocal passion is made clearer against a spacey backdrop of distorted decaying guitar, quickly opening up into an anti-gravity flow of sonic comets, burning tails weaving in and out and gently fading into a greater wall of sound with vocals like love letters broadcast into dead space and left to echo between the asteroids forever. Ornate and intricate guitar swoons into dreaminess on “Helicopter Blues” before culminating into an aural revolution that perfectly soundtrack a new determination in the vocals without compromising their soft allure. “Puella” offers something darker than the rest of Wishing Machine’s tracks, with a foreboding sense of eeriness in its atmosphere and skeletal electronic beat.

With Wishing Machine, Magical Creatures have created a soundtrack to reluctant goodbyes in twilit parking lots, teenage tales of nearly requited love, and imaginary worlds juxtaposed over the universal world that we all share. Each track finds the guitar plugging directly into the heart, vocals as soothing and intangible as gently shifting clouds of cool mist, and a refreshing lack of cynicism that really earns the term dreampop. The only danger of falling into such a dream is never wanting to wake up.

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