Lou Reed - Magic and Loss
May 1, 2020
87
Magic And Loss originally started as a concept album about magic, but after the loss of two close friends to cancer, Reed expanded the themes over to death as well. The result is the second emotionally-charged album in a row which hits just as hard as the previous Songs For Drella, but is arguably better from a musical standpoint.

To a lot of people, Magic And Loss is ruined by its overbearing themes of death. And I've gotta be honest, I understand that perfectly well. Unlike an album like Berlin which is also depressing, Magic And Loss focuses a bit too heavily on the dark themes, sometimes making it a bit too difficult to actually get lost in the sound and instead focus entirely on the lyrics. To some people, this makes it one of the most difficult Lou Reed albums to sit through and return to. But let's be real here, Lou Reed has always been an excellent lyricist. While I wouldn't call this his strongest lyrically, with it lacking the subtlety that many of his previous works have had, it's still very vivid and well-written. With songs like Magician, Sword Of Damocles and the title track all being excellent and arguably being some of the best Reed tracks this late in his career, it's hard to argue against the fact that this is one of his best efforts in a long while. And with some other tracks feeling like they could have been placed on a Velvet Underground album and they would be right at home (Harry's Circumcision? More like "Harry Godiva's Self-Operation"), this definitely feels like the most like a call-back to that early point in his career (with the exception of Songs For Drella, of course).

With that said, the instrumentation is probably the weak point here, but even that is good. It just feels a little all-over-the-place, with the opener, Dorita, being a loud, in-your-face hard rock instrumental track, and then the album slows down for a long while, showcasing Reed's usual stripped-back, simplistic sound focusing mostly on his vocals, then ending with a slew of hard rock tracks that are very hit-or-miss. The closer is generally received positively, but in the case of Gassed And Stoned and Power And Glory Part II, you either like them or you don't. I personally enjoy the abrasive Gassed And Stoned a lot and even consider it one of my favourites on the album, but Power And Glory Part II, to me, just seems like a pretty useless addition to the track listing that doesn't really do much other than give more of a reason as to why the closer is also a rockier tune. That aside, the rest of the track listing is very consistent in its sound and quality, making for a cohesive listening experience that will leave some people overwhelmed and others very satisfied with the direction Reed is taking.

Favourite Tracks: Magic And Loss (The Summation); Warrior King (Revenge); Sword Of Damocles (Externally); Gassed And Stoned (Loss); Harry's Circumcision (Reverie Gone Astray); Magician (Internally)

Least Favourite Track: Power And Glory Part II (Magic Transformation)

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