Album review: Purson – Desire’s Magic Theatre

Purson - Desire's Magic Theatre

Purson, the British psychedelic band led by songstress / vocalist / guitarist Rosalie Cunningham is back with their sophomore album “Desire’s Magic Theatre”. They may on the surface remind one of a better version of Jefferson Airplane but there are so many more pieces to their puzzle, and these pieces form a much more complex picture. The record also features a little bit of “Sgt Pepper” experimentation, a hint of “Satanic Majesties” audacity and a heavy dose of late 60’s flower power viewed through the “The Doors” of Perception. And what ties these together is a kind of burlesque spirit that infuses the whole album and provides the music’s soul.

Sometimes a guitar riff will briefly recall the Jimi Hendrix Experience, as on the aptly named “Electric Landlady”, surely an intentional nod to his “Electric Ladyland” album and studio. But that’s not to say that the album lacks originality: all these influences come together brilliantly into a whole that’s retro and current at the same time, and adventurous yet accessible, with Cunningham’s soft, passionate voice gliding over the music bed. There’s a spirit of fearlessness to the compositions that shows a kinship with prog rock, even though it’d be a stretch to assign them the label, especially since their songs never bog down in frivolous displays of virtuosity.

Rosalie Cunningham of Purson September 30th 2015 (Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)
Rosalie Cunningham of Purson September 30th 2015 (Photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

It’s also a true album, and while I’m not sure there’s a storyline to piece together from each song, musically it flows perfectly the way it is sequenced and is best experienced as a coherent whole. Don’t look for a big single with a commercial hook, there isn’t one and that’s OK; there’s no filler on “Desire’s Magic Theatre”, just 10 songs that will fill your head with visions of swirling, hypnotic light shows. Step into Purson’s Magic Theatre, the next showing is about to begin.


Jean-Frederic Vachon
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