Kiwi pop rookie Lorde will take the stage this Saturday at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Theatre. Thanks to her smash single “Royal,” it’s a good bet no introduction is needed for the headliner. However, attendees might want to check out her opening act Majical Cloudz, a duo who’s worth the early arrival.
Majical Cloudz is the open-hearted pop project of Devon Welsh. While it began as a solo project, fellow collaborator Matthew Otto later joined Welsh to produce and perform the music together. The two gained media attention with the “Turns Turns Turns” EP in 2012 and then scored acclaim with their second full-length album, “Impersonator,” the following year.
The two acts share a similar approach with their respective production. Both acts utilize the spaciousness of their sparse music. Take the bare-bones “Team” with Majical Cloudz’ single “Turns Turns Turns.” Sure, the former’s song packs a harder punch as a pop single with its booming drums. What Majical Cloudz lacks in stomping percussion, it compensates with rich loops and arrangements that feel like a lay on a cloud.
Beyond its sound, the strength of Majical Cloudz’ music comes from its full embrace of human emotion. Welsh doesn’t hold back delivering his message on top of the blank canvas of a production. The blunt lyrics can sometimes overwhelm but they are nevertheless honest and rewarding.
“Hey man, sooner or later you’ll be dead,” Welsh sings on the album closer “Notebook,” “I want you to know I got respect.”
Not all Majical Cloudz tracks sound so morbid, but they do speak about death and love with an equally frank manner. It’s better to take Welsh’s lyrics less as mourning more as a celebration for being alive. These earnest moments define its standout record “Impersonator” separate from other projects.
It’s also the reason why a minimal approach to its performance works best. Because its music wears its hearts on its sleeve, Majical Cloudz thrives in an intimate set-up. Lights are dimmed low, sometimes pitch black. Welsh walks on stage with only a microphone in his hand while Otto handles a simple kit to trigger loops. Even for festival sets, the two treat the huge stage as if it’s a private bedroom.
The exposed, sincere music of Majical Cloudz works as a great companion to Lorde. At its core, Lorde’s songs on her debut album, “Pure Heroine,” read like scribbled entries in a teen journal. Though Majical Cloudz’ perspective may be more stark, both focus on the heavy thoughts pondered in moments of solitude. It might be difficult to open up to the music at first, but Majical Cloudz provides great company for times when you need it most.