Album Review: Magical Thinking by Shallou
Written by Nedtilbrook Tilbrook on May 2, 2020
LA-based indie and electronic artist Shallou (AKA Joe Boston) recently released his second album, ‘Magical Thinking’. Straddling indie and more electronic and house influences, as well as integrating some pop leanings and utilizing several collaborations with other artists, the environmentally-conscious artist has crafted an album that manages to be at once wistful, as well as uplifting and colorful.
‘Silhouettes’, a collaboration with Brisbane’s Vancouver Sleep Clinic, shows off the record’s mellow pop leanings. Commencing in a soft and ethereal manner, the chorus explodes out from the song like a rush of color, making the track uplifting but with a mournful touch to it nonetheless. Following immediately is a brief and highly atmospheric interlude entitled ‘Try’ which features spoken words that reference the passing of the seasons, something that the artist himself has highlighted as a theme of the album. After the interlude is ‘Letholigica’ a song with a soothingly nostalgic touch that is reflected in its opening lyrics:
The memory you had is gone
Fell in love when we were young
This song starts off airy and light, with an acoustic guitar at its center, before a very satisfying beat kicks in. Instrumental parts gradually enter and exit the song, making for an engrossing listen.
‘Make Believe’ features a finger-tappingly good beat and earnest, deep vocals alone at the start. Starting off sparse, the addition of layers during the chorus suddenly makes it feel whole, yet still somehow sparingly arranged. Lyrically, the song champions the need for creative spaces and the real world ‘magic’ that they offer:
It’s all that you want
It’s all that you need
Take some time to make believe
‘Good Together’ is the album’s penultimate track and a collaboration with San Jose’s electro-pop artist Ashe. My own personal favorite on the album, at the heart of ‘Good Together’ is an emotionally charged duet between the collaborators. The song tells the story of a relationship between two people who still hold feelings for each other, yet have both since moved on. Despite this, both characters recognize that their time together has passed and seek to remember their time together as an enjoyable one that exists as a happy time in the memory despite its end. Ultimately, then, the song is about a celebration of a past love, tinged with that nagging nostalgia for what might have been. Sung together by both halves of the duet in the chorus are the words:
You look so good together
I can’t even be mad
I’m so glad that you’re happy
Like we were then
When I was yours
Accompanying this meaningful duet are sparse counter-melodies during the verse counterpoised by an explosion of excitable musical energy in the chorus, a veritable cascade of kaleidoscopic sound. This song, like the album as whole, concerns an acknowledgement that things end or a specific to a particular time and place and you can do nothing to resist time’s passage so surrender becomes the only option because, after all, just because something ends it renders it no less meaningful and special. This song, throbbing yet sweet, explosive yet gentle, feels like a beautiful reflection of that as it washes over the listener. Not only, then, is this a colourful and sweet 38 minutes of music, but in its playing with time it is a fitting accompaniment to our troubling times as our sense of time changes. This play with time is also a reminder that this too shall pass.
Magical Thinking is available on Island Records now.
- Ned (Real Soon in Rose City)