Cuddle Magic is a big six-piece group with experience across the musical spectrum (reaching Amanda Palmer on the one side and Fred Frith on the other). Ashes / Axis has the gang playing around with pop flavours, in which bright and lovely melodies are delivered on a bed of weirdo textures. Great stuff, on Northern Spy.
7/10 Robin Staff review, 31 January 2017
For the longest time I’ve been trying to convince my friend to rebrand his DJ alias to DJ Cuddles -- or, as is my first preference, Cuddly Drawn Boy. I’m happy to say Cuddle Magic, while not DJs, have the right idea, naming themselves with perpetual adorability. Their music, meanwhile, is that indie-folks-singing-over-synth affair, creating a squelchy and fragmented pop with emotive undertones that’s somewhere towards the weirdo antics of Adult Jazz, if they were advert appropriate.
There’s a nice little bit of landscaping at play in their music, in that it sounds shiny and clean but is matched with a shrill playfulness -- “Kiss You” is a pretty perfectly calibrated pop song with the kind of backing hook you’d sweat to make -- but the careless synth melody that sets the song alight is silly and out of left, for kids on keyboards. The beat that propels “Spinning” sounds like a flimsy preset, but it creates a lovely almost lo-fi affectation to a song that otherwise sounds rather precise, with acoustic strums and striking piano. Cuddle Magic: they like their levels.
Sometimes they get a lil’ bit too mumbly, as on “Trojan Horse”, where too long is spent on a flatlining beat with little shifting it forwards. They eventually bring in the bassline and some shimmering affectations, but I prefer it when they rise nice and early, bringing all their baroque pop inclinations in with jubilance -- take “Jackie”, where xylophones and Supertramp-esque keys combine over their lead singer’s calm but commanding vocal. It’s never over the top, this quaint chamber pop. It’s enough to make you dream of Vampire Weekend.
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- Ashes/Axis by Cuddle Magic
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