Published Aug 22, 2018Montreal electronic pop duo Majical Cloudz will go down in history as an act gone too soon, but in their short period of activity, they achieved serious critical acclaim, a Juno nomination and a coveted slot opening for Lorde on her 2014 tour. Defined by vocalist Devon Welsh's weighty baritone and earnest, emotive lyrics, Majical Cloudz occupied a singular space in the music world, seemingly detached from the surrounding goings-on yet tapped in to a relatable, underlying humanity.
On Dream Songs, Welsh's first proper solo album, the singer wraps his trademark idiosyncratic musings in tender string arrangements instead of Majical Cloudz's electronic palette, and in doing so embellishes the melodrama that drives his lyrics. Where Majical Cloudz's icy, synth-driven instrumentals disoriented more than soothed, the string-led arrangements of Dream Songs bolster Welsh's voice. Even on the tracks that stand closest to Majical Cloudz's minimalist synth ballads, like "Dreams Have Pushed You Around" and "Comedian," the orchestral current keeps the songs rich and warm.
True to its name, Dream Songs is a loosely thematic collection of tracks that paint, in broad strokes, visions of an ideal future told through musings on love, relationships, personal truths and the inherent tragedy of the human condition. It could all be too heady, but with Welsh as the narrative voice, it's instead calming and confident. Highlights "By the Daylight" and "Summer's End" are some of Welsh's most uptempo work to date, exchanging his trademark slow-burn intensity for a more melodic, orchestral-pop flair that the singer commands with ease.
Majical Cloudz's small but mighty discography left a high mark for Welsh to beat, but fans of the old outfit can rest easy knowing that there's more introspective, quality songwriting to come. Dream Songs pushes Welsh's songcraft forward without abandoning his strengths. (Independent)