Toth
Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help


4.1
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
May 11th, 2019 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "I wanna be happy for no reason"

Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary was born out of the same circumstances as many artists who’ve crafted some of the most achingly beautiful breakup albums of our time: Alex Toth separated from his love of eleven years, and then shortly thereafter broke his leg and found himself apartment-bound with nothing but his depression. As a classically trained jazz trumpeter, Toth found himself instead writing stripped down songs that were more in-tune with his mood. The Justin Vernon narrative may have just about worn itself out, but as long as artists continue to be inspired by heartbreak and situations that physically necessitate isolation, there will always be a silver lining to such emotional trauma. Toth brings us this gorgeously experimental folk-pop record, one that touches on the darker side of love while unfurling a fresh, triumphant perspective.

Initial inspection of Practice Magic recalls everything from Perfume Genius to Coldplay – although the record doesn’t quite carry the indie clout of the former, nor does it ever dip into the simplicity of the latter. In reality, Toth’s debut lies somewhere in between – it’s a persistently engaging experience, employing various electronic elements, trumpets, orchestral strings, and sticky-sweet melodies. In that sense, it’s sort of the best of both worlds. Toth never buries his head so deep within his ambition that he loses sight of creating enjoyable music, yet he also effortlessly emits this glow of creative energy that seems to occur naturally in his craft. It’s a remarkably effective balance, one that places him in the enviable position of being both respectable and marketable.

The record hits its stride early with ‘No Reason’ – a clear cut gem that showcases the record’s jazzier inclinations alongside lush strings and a titular refrain of “we’re happy now, and yes we practice magic.” That momentum is carried on for most of the album with the earworm melody of ‘Copilot’ – which sounds like it could be a modern take on the Beatles – right on through to the horn-underscored ‘Picture of You’, where the choral harmonies recall the warmth and euphoria of the Beach Boys. Now, these comparisons make it sound like this should be the most uplifting album of all time, but the similarities exist mostly within the execution of the choruses alone. Not all that dissimilar from Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Perfume Genius, or yes – even Coldplay – Toth has a way of injecting bright flourishes into his sad pop vignettes. Take ‘When I Awoke’ for example, which takes a melancholic opening verse (when I awoke I saw you through my glassy orbs / you looked like a shadow of the day before) and then spins it with a massively contrasting tribal chorus that turns it into a palatable single. It’s a gift that prevents Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary from ever settling into a depressing rut. The mood of the album favors inspiration for better or worse, a trait that at the very least boosts its replay value.

Toth’s first outing combines some of the best elements of contemporary folk and indie – but more than anything, it’s simply a batch of ambitious and well-executed pop songs. The infusion of jazz and electronic elements adds a deliriously beautiful dimension, with Toth’s trumpet skills in particular serving as a point of distinction over his peers. Practice Magic and Seek Professional Help When Necessary is dynamic, bewitching, and admittedly a little bit unexpected. It might not scar as deeply as a Vernon retreats to his remote cabin tale, but this breakup-inspired record has an allure of its own. Practice Magic looks to the next beginning, and aims to dazzle.




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user ratings (10)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
May 11th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I came into this week looking forward to Aaron West and Holly Herndon. I still have yet to hear those albums properly because this and Matt Kivel came out of nowhere.

Digging: Tyler, the Creator - Igor

Skoop
May 11th 2019


2110 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Song to make you fall in love is cute. Haven't heard the rest but this piqued my interest.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 11th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I didn't think the first 2 songs (including Songs To Make You Fall In Love) represented the album very well. I remember getting through those tracks and almost getting bored enough to hang it up, but then it gets a lot better starting at "No Reason" and moving forward. Basically tracks 3-11 are the real album.

Dylan620
May 11th 2019


4845 Comments


Is the album cover an attempt at dabbing?

Digging: Death - Individual Thought Patterns

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 11th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I actually kind of like the cover not sure why, reminds me of some ritualistic dance.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 13th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Loving the vibe on this. It's just a really chill pop record at its core.

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


2875 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice read, been meaning to check this! I liked the single Picture of You quite a bit. Very Spotify-core, which seems to be a thing, but not necessarily a bad thing.

Digging: Injury Reserve - Injury Reserve

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 13th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Thanks Blush. I didn't know what to expect going in but I found it very loungey and chill. Love the jazzier parts especially. Lol what's spotify-core? I can't imagine what that would be considering that's a streaming platform with millions of artists.

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
May 13th 2019


2875 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Some of this reminds me of Fleet Foxes, did you get that too? Especially something like When I Awoke.

And they do curate and push a lot of playlists, as well as their new releases page -- among the extremely popular releases, they tend to push a lot slightly off-kilter, mostly accessible indie folk and pop (and sometimes hip-hop). Nothing bad or sinister, of course, just a trend I've noticed. Going for a particular image definitely. I reckon there's probably an overlap with popular NPR stuff, but I'm not familiar enough to make that claim, haha.

Slex
May 13th 2019


6638 Comments


Hate is a strong word but I hated this

Will try again tho some time before rating

Digging: Tyler, the Creator - IGOR

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 13th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Damn I'm surprised Slex. This is pretty laid back experimental pop, at the very least it's average IMO.



And that makes sense Blush. What you're describing is basically commercially promoted indie pop.

Slex
May 13th 2019


6638 Comments


Don't at all think it's bad, just had a visceral reaction to it. Really don't like the guy's voice tho

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 13th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

He sounds like Chris Martin from Coldplay to me



Guess it's a good thing I like Coldplay lol

Slex
May 13th 2019


6638 Comments


I'm a huge Coldplay fan! Dunno what it is haha, think I was just expecting something different so I'm gonna give a little time for my expectations to realign

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 14th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

The more I listen to it the more I like it



¯_(ツ)_/¯

Ambrosian
May 15th 2019


35 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was pretty impressed by this, the instrumentation really bumps it up

BenThatsMyJamin
May 16th 2019


2485 Comments


Stealing "Spotify-core" lol, such an apt descriptor for a definite trend

humblerodent
May 16th 2019


252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hidden gem of an album, really loving it. Thanks for the rec!

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 16th 2019


30695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Finally, not a nay-sayer! Glad someone else sees what I see in this.

Slex
May 16th 2019


6638 Comments


There is a strange magic to this



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