Magic Wands – Illuminate

There has been a constant host of striking and evocative encounters lighting up the realm of dream pop/dreamwave over the years, artists and releases which have been as important as they were inspirational in its evolution but maybe few have truly evoked the fantasy and hallucinatory beauty within such dreamscapes as Magic Wands within their latest album, Illuminate. The release is a collection of songs which, like sirens of temptation, lure ears and the imagination into the escape of dreams and the rich yet intimate fantastic possible within; quite simply it weaves indie pop rapture.  

 Illuminate is the fourth full-length from the duo of Chris and Dexy Valentine, the couple forming the band in 2011.The pair’s sound takes inspiration from British and European new wave and post punk as well as 80’s pop music, potent tinctures of flavours helping brew the unique character of the band’s dream pop based sound and now the fascination of their virulence soaked new offering.

Magic Wands make captivation instant through album opener Honeymoon, its gentle yet keen entrance shaped by an infectious swing within haze drenched electronics. As quickly, Dexy’s ethereal tones are calling, coaxing even keener attention as the song strolls with lively relaxation through its paradisiacal romance. For all its radiance there is also a slight but open hue of discord and a Curve-esque lining which just completes the enthralment on offer.

The following Blue Cherry is synth pop seduction, its electronic pulsing and rhythmic throbbing quickly and welcomingly nagging as dreamy melodies wrap the senses and Dexy’s tones caress. The suggestive vining of guitar only adds further drama to the courtship and almost untamed splendour of the song while next up Angel Dust revels in a more synth punk nurtured incitement. Radiance and earthy fuzziness collude in its saunter though, as its predecessors, its infection is edacious and inescapable.

Paradise weaves an atmosphere and intimation echoing its title, a mix of journey and emotional intimacy which envelopes the senses and imagination with hazy speculation before both are propositioned by the intrigue, mystery, and extra-terrestrial uniqueness of the instrumental Psychic Alien. Though barely passing a minute in length, it is much more than an interlude, indeed a piece of music provoking a conjuring imagination before the album’s title track radiates and resonates with bordering on scuzzy elegance within post punk shadowing. It is also another song unveiling a new aspect to the Magic Wands sound just within the album alone, a track which festers and lingers.

Similarly Bat Babby is a track which once under the skin refuses to leave, its pop infectiousness almost Bananarama like and lustily manipulative much like the more crepuscular Magic Flower and its more new wave/post punk nurtured daydream. There is a great Modern English scented hue to its melodic narrative and a just as alluring Play Dead breath to its shadows, a flavouring which is similarly applicable, if less intense, to the boldly individual charm and fantasy of Queen of Gypsies. Like the hem of a dancing rover, melodies swirl and tempt, vocals casting their own manifestation of both captivations.

The album closes up on The Beach, another instrumental movie of mystery woven electronic and melodic suggestion crafted by the ever intriguing and fertile imagination of Magic Wands. It is provocative finale to one fascinating and magnificent creative dream with the duo; indeed the finest encounter with them by far.

Illuminate are out now via Feline Records, available @

Pete RingMaster 04/03/2021

Copyright RingMaster Review

Categories: Music

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