Album Review: Cuddle Magic Bring “Ashes/Axis” To Listeners’ Mind

Cuddle Magic have gained fame for being headliners of “chamber pop” or “avant-pop”. While these titles may come off like Cuddle Magic aims for “weird”, outlandish sounds, which would not be wrong, they also are terms that symbolize Cuddle Magic’s ability to layer rhythms. Sometimes, we presume that music alters people’s mood according to its beats, but its the arrangements and placing of one beat over and into the other that makes music define a listening soul. Cuddle Magic’s Ashes/Axis is another excellent marker to their capacities as pop composers/ producers that know how to arrange great, dreamy sounds.

Ashes/Axis is like giant, marshmallow sounds hovering over your fantasies. Sonically, there is a candied sentiment that is not as overt as say other pop songs, but subtle like a light, fruit-topped pastry. You cannot help but hear the air sift through the crisp, multi-layered arrangements of songs like “Jackie” and “Spinning”, which have a melodic mellowness that turns their rhythms into pillows for you to gently lay your ears. Yet, despite these gentle symphonies, the album has an undercurrent of funkadelia that brings out a “folkish” nature to their pop music. While I would not say that there is a central theme or storyline to the record, you cannot help  but feel like it is trying to take you somewhere. Tracks like “The First Hippie On The Moon “Pt. 1 and Pt 2 draw out the narrative aspects of Cuddle Magic’s style that furthers their minimalist nature. For however many instruments they layer together, this six-piece band always comes off light. It is as if each song is a new musical/ chapter and contains characters that are eccentric and bigger than life only because they have realized how small they are to it.

Some may look at life’s bigness and cower to ever look again, while Cuddle Magic looks at life’s enormity and decides to start an exploration. For this, they use instrumentals that are arcade-like or intergalactic, which usually sound similar due to the fact that many arcade games are based in space. Yet, their starry, laser sounds are not powerful or loud like in other pop anthems. They aim for potency, which means their arrangements, along with their vocals, come off like wistful gusts of wind rather than tornados. Benjamin Lazar Davis and Kristin Slipp make sure to keep their voices quiet and restrained, as if they, themselves, were added instruments harmonizing and blending with the rest. Even in tracks like “Slow Rider” and “Kiss You”, which are their most active dance songs, their vocals mash with the heavier bassline to make you want to be delicately guided into their world. For however rhythmic, Ashes/ Axis’ music is best to sway and dream to like in “Trojan horse” and “Round And Round”, where their lyrics are exemplarily observant and aim to see life’s details through a microscope on feelings. Again, this pushes their distant, alien ambiance by showing to live in this universe is to accept that life is about nuances not standards.

Ashes/ Axis is beautifully fun and inspiring because of Cuddle Magic’s capacity to leave you in awe is distinct. Their focus on making everything in their production and style seem significant through subtly will make you think you are drifting through the desert blanketed by a dozen full, neon moons in the night sky. Listeners will love feeling like they are about to hear a wonder that cannot be found or replicated by another artist or in their radio. It is for this reason that Ashes/Axis will be a stellar pick for those seeking a new album to buy/ experience. To Buy Cuddle Magic’s Ashes/Axis On January 27 Click Here.