Majical Cloudz’s Impersonator reaches deep into Welsh’s fractured psyche to craft a minimal yet touching record, immersing you in emotionally confronting aural landscapes.

Impersonator is the sophomore album from Montreal duo Majical Cloudz, a meditative record dealing with broad existential themes. Lead singer Devon Welsh self-consciously mines issues of love, death, religion and identity with a vulnerability that flourishes in Matthew Otto’s sparse, ambient-electronic arrangements.

Like a lucid drunk reflecting on their personal problems at 3am, Welsh expresses his neuroses and failings with disarming honesty. The record begins with the title track, a cold, stilted song marked by a scratchy looped sample and the self-deprecating statement, “I’m a liar I say I make music.” While the lyrics occasionally come across as wooden and overly melodramatic (such as “Do you remember what you said when you heard voices in your head?” on ‘Notebook’), Welsh’s expressive and unorthodox vocal phrasing is the driving force of the album, providing a commanding backbone for the winsome, stripped back ambience.

There’s an unnerving openness to the music, and yet the record provides an intimate and enclosed feeling, ensuring Impersonator is a headphones record that rewards undivided attention.

Welsh described Impersonator as an attempt to “communicate a lot with as little as possible,” in order “to make music that barely existed…where the songs could be more about humanness.” The simple lyrical content is reflective of this and helps express an unadulterated sincerity that creates a conversational dynamic with the listener. For instance, the repetition of everyday platitudes in ‘Silver Rings’ – “Stay with me my love” and “I don’t think about dying alone” – are backed by a haunting background of looped, echoing vocals culminating in an evocative and absorbing mood-piece.

4/5 stars

BY LARRY LAI

Impersonator is out now through Matador.

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