Magik Markers - Surrender to the Fantasy (4 stars)

Clarion call from some of underground rock's most adventurous and intelligent practitioners

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Magik Markers - Surrender to the Fantasy

(Drag City)

While the title of the first Magik Markers album in four years might hint at a Spinal Tap-esque revelling in rock's excesses, what it actually displays is some of its most scintillating rehabilitation. Despite being submerged in an ocean of reverb, it's clear that the range of Elisa Ambrogio's vocals have simultaneously expanded and warped. The great-in-the-small tenderness of 'Mirrorless', with the singer cooing; ‘I was the ghost and the flesh and the bramble/ I was the crown and the king and the example/ You rolling yellow sun/ Seems like you couldn’t heat no one ’, like a punk rock Emily Dickinson, is a stark contrast to the scorched earth blues of first single, 'Bonfire'. This track starts like a hex with drummer Pete Nolan incanting the title over and over before being drowned out by his own pummelling drums and Ambrogia snarling like a hepped-up Joan Jett.

Surrender to the Fantasy is the first Magik Markers’ album to feature former Son of Earth noise-nik, John Shaw, and his bass brings a crooked spine to some of their strongest songs to date. He also acts as an adhesive between Nolan's troglodyte drums and Ambrogio's haywire guitar - both of which are as wild as ever. Amborgio’s axe cuts through the skag blues of 'Acts of Desperation' like labelmate Neil Hagerty in the nasty majesty of his Royal Trux days. While on album highlight, 'American Sphinx Face', it's all contorting sheets of sound like Keiji Haino riding a gigantic electric eel through Patti Smith's Birdland, as she sneers 'In America every man's a king/ No good king but a dead king/ I got no feudal feeling … I'm American like the dream'. Surrender to the Fantasy is an exciting clarion call from some of underground rock's most adventurous and intelligent practitioners.

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