Hailing from the romantic city of Barcelona, Lewis and the Strange Magics are a self-described “heavy-psych” rock band set on delivering trippy grooves and ethereal soundscapes. The band’s main contributions seem to come from Lewis Pe, taking on the role of guitarist, singer, bassist, keyboardist, and drummer on most tracks, on top of doing all the production and mixing. Solo psych-rock projects are all but rare these days. With pioneers like Tame Impala and Mac Demarco still entertaining enormous audiences, there’s no doubt that the demand for vintage vibes and soothing melodies isn’t going anywhere. This brings me to wonder just how The Gloomy Corner LP will manage to stand as a complete, cohesive piece, all while setting itself apart from mainstream acts of the same genre.
The album starts with “Astral Garden,” an instrumental build up, a trope not too uncommon for the genre but well-executed nonetheless. As the songs progress and the instrumentals cement themselves with Pe’s vocals, flavors of Pink Floyd and The Beatles can be heard abundantly. Aside from the textures and sounds, the compositions seem to reflect these classic bands, especially on tracks like “Your Green Nail Polish” and “La piscine.” Ivan Miguel keeps a solid beat on every song and complements the neo-psychedelia vibes with tasteful percussions and syncopations. Halfway through, “Analysis of a Dream” served as an interesting song choice but failed to reel me in and just didn’t maintain the flow into the second half of the LP, especially with an abrupt ending that struggles to meet with the sixth and one of the more superior tracks, “Farmhouse”. The organ tracks are undoubtedly very Doors-inspired, but I will give Pe credit for how they were done tastefully instead of overwhelming the songs or impeding the guitar work.
Towards the end of the album, I can still hear George Harrison-esque fuzz guitar lines, on top of compositional work resembling more and more Sgt. Peppers-era rock music. The self-titled track is a great example of this. However, I feel like the organ playing on this track isn’t much different from what we’ve just heard, and it hampers the impact towards the end of the song. The Gloomy Corner closes off with what is arguably another psych-rock trope: a 6-minute song delivered in the form of a jam. That being said, “Always in Isolation” is definitely one of the stronger tracks, with a sound and flow that I feel like could appeal to a large indie audience, despite its long run-time.
Lewis and the Strange Magics excel in nailing those outer-worldly sounds of bands from the golden era, and clearly dynamic composition isn’t a struggle for the Spanish rockers. I must say that I think the album suffers slightly from not having many memorable hooks or choruses, an aspect of songwriting that can really help with having listeners come back for more and, in the moment, bopping to the music. Nonetheless, this is a solid independent release that shows the potential for an even more focused and immersive experience from Lewis and the gang.
Written by Davide Spinato
*Edited by Dominic Abate