Majical Cloudz is the deceptively silly alias of Montreal-based singer/songwriter Devon Welsh and his collaborator Matthew Otto, who together make plaintive, austere ballads bursting with yearning and loneliness. What's striking about their Impersonator LP is its emphasis on Welsh's voice, a sturdy baritone that navigates melodies with a deliberate, sinewy grace from high up in the mix.
Welsh makes the most of very little by repeating words, phrases and sounds over and over in slightly varied cadences, drawing the listener's focus ever deeper into his emotional mess. It's a tactic that adds a visceral quality to straightforward lyrics, and one that he even deploys in the title of the album's catchiest and most fully produced song, Turns Turns Turns.
The album's emphasis on repetition occasionally sounds too self-conscious, but it's a rare excess in an otherwise restrained - if not necessarily subtle - collection of ballads.
Top track: Bugs Don't Buzz