Magazine, No Thyself

Peter Shapiro

By Peter Shapiro

on 11.15.11 in Reviews

No Thyself

As abrasive and adventurous as ever, 30 years later

With main man Howard Devoto’s highly literate, mordant wit and the spiky but widescreen sensibilities of Devoto’s conspirators Barry Adamson, John McGeoch, Dave Formula and John Doyle, Magazine was perhaps the most ambitious, most proggy of all the post-punk bands, providing a large part of Radiohead’s blueprint. Thirty years on from its last album, Magazine (with Apollo 440′s Noko replacing McGeoch on guitar and bassist Jon “Stan” White taking over for Adamson) is as abrasive and adventurous as ever, with sharp guitar phrases and sinister arrangements framing Devoto’s caustic barbs at the foibles of human nature. This time around, though, Devoto trains his unflinching eye on himself and his impending mortality (he turns 60 in 2012), refusing to age gracefully on tracks like the rousing “Holy Dotage,” the quietly caustic “Final Analysis Waltz” and the pervy “Other Thematic Material.” On “Of Course Howard (1979),” he pointedly interrogates his own legacy. The album’s centerpiece, though, may be “Hello Mr. Curtis (With Apologies)”, a savagely sardonic ode of sorts to the sainted martyrs of underground rock, Ian Curtis and Kurt Cobain, where Devoto decides that he would rather die like Elvis “on some godforsaken toilet” and slyly winks on the fade-out refrain: “I hope I die before I get really old.”