[sic] Magazine

Lois Magic – Desert Colour

Each time I gave some thought as to what I would write about Desert Colour, one phrase in particular kept popping into my head with unfaltering regularity: sweetness in a bucket of salt. I have an American friend to thank for that one – I’ve never seen or heard the phrase outside of his one-time usage, but I have taken it to mean something pretty darn sweet made to stand out all the more by being in amongst something a little more tangy and acerbic. I can’t think of a better way to describe the music of Lois Magic .

The six tracks on Desert Colour are driven by simple, punchy drum loops and catchy guitar riffs; blended into the mix are layers of static, reverb, feedback, echo, samples, distortion and noise, resulting in lightly crackling lo-fi pop-punk/noise rock. The songs hook with an easy charm and duly swim about in a nifty kind of chaos that, while remaining subtle enough to blend in, serves to highlight that charm instead of washing it away in the din.

Vocals echo and fade in and out, are occasionally indiscernible but always audible. Funnily enough, that seems to be what’s got me hooked the most. The first four tracks – ‘Desert Colour’, ‘Thoroughly Nasty’, ‘Dead Quiet’ and ‘Gifthorse’, have these cool little moments where the vocals, samples and guitar riffs emerge with greater clarity to create (for lack of a better way of putting it) totally groove-worthy sections that have seen me put this on repeat several times just to get to those familiar, “sweet spots” that I can more than nod along to. (Yep, I’m doing that mumble-hum thing punctuated by the phrases I know with pointed emphasis, which is really quite un-hip, particularly next to these tracks, but I can’t help myself).

‘Gifthorse’ is a standout, not only for being the longest track, but also for being some of the catchiest, nigh on addictive six minutes of sound I’ve heard this year. ‘Sucker List’ is, at least in terms of sound, the “cleanest” of the bunch, and makes for a very neat slice of garage punk that’s over all too quickly, while ‘Palmengarten’, the final track, ends exactly where it should with a minute of clangy, echoing noise – which is swift and abrupt enough to take you a little by surprise and prompt you to play it all again.

In that sense, Desert Colour has got its timing just about perfect. At just shy of 17 minutes it certainly is short (and sweet), but it’s got the right amount of grit to give it interesting textures and kept me playing it quite consistently. It isn’t perfect, but treated any differently the slightly-out-of-tune-radio-like haziness could have been a novelty that wore thin quickly, or hindered the results too much by obscuring what are actually nicely crafted, cool tunes. In saying that, of course, it doesn’t really matter what they might have been with altered measures, it only matters what they are: sweetness in a bucket of salt, and I’ve developed quite a taste for both flavours.

Desert Colour will be out soon on cassette only on Skrot Up .