Upon first listen, the debut album from Melbourne-via-Berlin duo Magic Hands, Let Me Hold You While You Fail, is a revelation.
Imagine an untouched tribe in the Amazonian jungle, whose behaviour, language and dress are entirely unique – unaltered by the convoluted world outside. As a band, Magic Hands is like an untouched Amazonian tribe. If you had to describe their sound, you might say something like ‘psychedelic electronic dream folk glitch pop mixed with a Sounds Of The Rainforest CD’. Or you might just say that Magic Hands are a genre in their own right.
While clear comparisons could be drawn to bands like Beach House, The XX and Class Actress, Magic Hands are doing something undeniably original and fresh. Let Me Hold You While You Fail is a stunning debut from the duo, which is made up of Alex Badham, from cult Melbourne outfit Aleks and the Ramps, and the classically trained Lucy Roleff. A bit of their magic may also be attributed to the fact that the pair met in Berlin; a breeding ground of artistic innovation and all that is ‘Cool’.
Written and recorded between a basement in Northcote and a house in country Victoria, Let Me Hold You While You Fail is a beautifully dreamy album. It is filled with steady, pulsating rhythms and layer upon layer of sound; varying from electronic synths, strings, slide guitars and drumbeats, to echoing birdcalls and trickling water – amongst a million other unidentifiable bleeps and pings. Roleff’s hushed voice is gorgeous and versatile, a testament to her classical training, and Badham’s backup vocals complement Roleff’s perfectly. At times the lyrics can barely be deciphered amidst the complex melodies, but this only enhances the ambience of the record.
While the album is generally killer, there are a few real standout tracks. ‘Limousine’ is a pop anthem that truly showcases Roleff’s vocal range, and ‘Golden Boy’ is a hypnotic opening track, while ‘Pines’ is like a lullaby, and progresses beautifully. ‘Tone’ is another highlight, with its strong rhythmic beats and romantic vibes. If there had to be any criticisms, it would be that the album gets a little lost in the dreaminess around tracks five and six, with ‘Holy Times’ and ‘Collarbones’. Perhaps it is because Roleff’s voice begins to sound more hymn-like, or perhaps because the music has finally lulled you into a vague, trancelike state. Whichever the case, it’s nevertheless a pleasant experience.
Most of the press surrounding this album so far has discussed the ‘journey’ that it takes you on, and it’s true – Let Me Hold You While You Fail does take you on a kind of mystical, psychic ride. It’s a surprising and refreshing album that keeps you on the edge of your seat (or rather, your headphones) – and dare I say points a middle finger to the cynics under the impression that ‘there’s nothing innovative about music anymore’.
In short: buy this album. Right now. I feel that sums up my feelings pretty succinctly.