Published May 22, 2013Another week, another inward-reaching LP from the creative tropics of Montreal. Heralding the Matador Records debut of Grimes-collaborating duo Majical Cloudz, Impersonator is an album dealing, as the title suggests, with identity crisis and psychological uncertainty.
"I was at a point where [loss of identity] was a relevant theme in my life," singer Devon Welsh explains to Exclaim! "I was between almost everything in my life, including my ability to write music, my geographical location, my psychological orientation, my various personal relationships. And I didn't think about that until after I'd titled the album. And then that all started to become clear to me: that there was a theme to the lyrics, and the title encapsulated those themes."
If the concept wasn't immediately visible to its author, the band's creative manifesto — a blend of intimacy, optimism and vulnerability — was refreshingly clear from the outset.
"I like art that goes out on a limb for some reason or another," Welsh says. "It's not about flashiness or aesthetics or coolness. Whether it's personal or in a political sense, it's about going out on a limb... I feel like there's something important about sad music, but there should be something to pull you out."
Speaking about Impersonator, Welsh admits that "I don't know how... unambiguously depressing the album is. I hope it's not."
He also draws comparisons between the tone of his music and that of another sombre singer-songwriter.
"I mean, you can listen to Elliott Smith and it'll make you sad, but I don't think you can blame Elliott Smith for making that music. When I started listening to Elliott Smith it was also a consoling activity, because the reason I connected with it so strongly was that I felt so much akin to the emotions he was carrying across in his music. So maybe in another sense his music provided me with a framework for understanding what sadness is and what it means."
Coming to the end of a North American tour with Youth Lagoon, Welsh has thrived in a state of flux, sacrificing intimate relationships but ultimately finding an interior peace on the road, albeit through a flawed kind of catharsis.
"Since I've been touring I've felt happier than I have in a long time. It's emotionally satisfying. The things I write about are still feelings and real-life relationships and real-life problems that don't disappear just because you write a song about it, but it at least helps me get a grip. It's a helpful thought process to clarify something that I'm feeling."
You can check out all the upcoming dates for Majical Cloudz over here. They include a show at Vancouver's Venue on Thursday (May 23) with Youth Lagoon.