Cool, assured and likely to lodge in your synapses...
Mark Perlaki
15:24 4th March 2010

Let’s cut to the chase - what a scoop for XL Records! They got there before 4AD! Unsigned at the beginning of the year, ‘The Magician’s Private Library’ by 27 year old Holly Miranda is a zeitgeisty signing on the wake of The XX fuss and a delicious parry to the Cocteau Twins, it’s a debut to send spiny shivers and tumble through gossamer threads.

With the finger smudges of TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek on minimal-production and co-vocals from band members, it’s cool, assured and likely to lodge in your synapses. Running between the posts of dreamy 80’s-4AD indie-pop, ‘The Magician’s Private Library’ is lush, ethereal, and brassy-toned, the siren-voiced Holly Miranda showing Florence Welch‘s scale and reach at times, but bathed in the subtle underglow of Hope Sandoval and Elizabeth Frazer.

The Mary Poppins-like views over the smoke stacks of the poppy pilot single ‘Forest Green, Oh Forest Green’, finds Miranda singing “…who’s got nothing to run from, I do, I do…”, and the Francophile pop of the brassy ‘Sweet Dreams’ sounds like Saint Etienne vying towards a spacey Stereolab, while the tossing and turning song ‘Every Time I Go To Sleep’ is cut by a cynicism and Yael Naim-like pop , Miranda singing “…what’s real is really bullshit…” - clearly we’re being taken somewhere. Writing of small-town mentalities, religious zealots and big fish in small ponds, so the press release goes - I don‘t hear it!!!

The lush strains of the magnificent ‘Joints’ fill the gaps between Cocteau Twins bliss-screenings and an opiated Mazzy Star where Miranda’s falsetto is on a par with Elizabeth Frazer, while the brass-inflated  song comes across as an antidote to an o-d of Pink Floyd’s ’Dark Side Of The Moon’. ‘Slow Burn Treason’ could be the finest moment, however - like a fem-Bon Iver singing ‘Skinny Love‘, Miranda fills the mood with swoons and a spacey tenderness while Sitek cuts a deep slow-groove - filigree indeed! Or does ‘High Tide’ take the crown? Snare drum machine and an understated The XX-stylee, Miranda’s voice floats disembodied, yet the song pulses - engages, enraptures, and cuts a groove.

The pondering ballad ‘Waves’ mellows around the edges - crimson and burnished, striking a balance between delicacy and impetuousness, tugging by the jacket lapels to feel intensity. ‘No One Just Is’ is one of the darker tensile moments where baroque Arabic meets Dead Can Dance and you feel tossed by Miranda’s waves, and the broody ‘Canvas’ could be a Sia Furler melancholy song tinged with great production and flavoured with regret. On ‘Sleep On Fire’ Miranda sings “…there’s no place I’d rather wake up, than beside you…“ -  the song that gave birth to that pop song, howsitgo? - “…whaaooo, my sax is on fire…”? Maybe! It’s better than that duffer! A parting gift anyoldhow from a cracking debut and an artist I’m borrowing to bank on!