Coming three years after the captivating The Circle And The Blue Door, Purson’s second full-length is a flamboyant retro-rock opera and ode to psychoactives that inhabits the same soundscape as Sgt. Pepper – but the psychedelic rockers aren’t merely affecting tribute to a bygone era.
The album’s eponymous opener, from its bluesy swing to the folky waltz that’s punctuated by applause, sounds like a long lost bootleg from a 70s club show. Parade stands out as a gorgeous ballad with a nod to Pink Floyd in which singer Rosalie Cunningham gives a beautifully understated performance, while The Bitter Suite is a stunning prog-rock opus with shades of early Queen. What’s striking about this album is how it manages to be ambitious yet unaffected. The hallucinatory lyrics of Mr Howard, a colourful trip through Rosie’s mind on drugs, are backed by intricately woven musical arrangements.
Desire’s Magic Theatre is essentially a masterfully realised stoner record, without the usual fuzz or occult-ish vibes.
Their sound may not be totally unique, but every second of Desire’s Magic Theatre is heartfelt and it’s the way Purson make their musical references resonate that elevates them to a higher state.