The Magician’s Private Library by Holly Miranda is a seductively slow burning piece, imprinted with the multi-faceted production work of David Sitek, a member of TV on the Radio. With a wide roster of other artists under his belt including Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foals plus knob twiddling duties on Anywhere I Lay My Head by Scarlett Johansson, on this album it seems very much that Sitek is in control. Rather like Johanssons’s debut, which critically took a bashing but was one of our albums of 2008, the songs on The Magician’s Private Library are smothered with washes of guitar, experimental beats and short blasts of horns. No One Just Is with its clipped echoing rhythms and menacing soundscapes has very much the take of a TV on the Radio song, with the addition of a feminine dreamy voice floating in the mix. Unlike the aforementioned Johansson though, Miranda’s vocal is stronger. One moment it is all ghostly and otherworldly the next it’s deeply sensuous - often it is almost romantically sleepy.
Sleepy is the right word here, because there are occasions when The Magicians Private Library is just a little too languid for its own good. Titles such as Sweet Dreams, Everytime I Go To Sleep and Sleep On Fire combined with lyrical content such as “Dreamt of you again last night,” from the slow burning trumpet laden Joints and “Wake up and you’re next to nothing,” from Slow Burn Treason give a pretty clear indication of the bed time imagery that this album conjures. Add to this a front cover of a girl asleep surrounded by arrows and music that occasionally drifts in an atmospheric haze and it just compounds the narcoleptic feel.
That is not to say that The Magicians Private Library is boring. It just requires the right atmosphere. Songs such as Waves with its soft layers of guitar and existential lyrics of “This intent is so much more, then just a means to end of this suffering,” are exquisitely beautiful, hypnotic and dustily subtle. They are certainly worth attention.
Back at the end of 2009 we named Holly Miranda as one of our Ones to Watch for 2010. In terms of output Miranda was always going to be one of our less obviously commercial choices, and certainly The Magicians Private Library is never going to set its foot in the album charts. However if it’s a rainy Sunday morning and you want something a little dreamy, a little smoke filled and a little moody to create the soundtrack to your day, The Magician’s Private Library could fit the bill.