Clarity Has Reared Its Ugly Head Again
I demand special consideration as the most human
Now that's not much to ask, is it?
But it makes me feel like a force for evil
— Magazine, "Of Course Howard (1979)"
Magazine are a rock band, originally from Manchester
, England, noted for (arguably) inventing the Post Punk
genre. Their lead singer, Howard Devoto, was originally lead singer
of the Buzzcocks
, but left after their first release, Spiral Scratch,
allegedly believing that punk would be short lived and that something would need to be ready to take its place.
Devoto met Scottish
guitarist John McGeoch, and while McGeoch was away Devoto recruited Barry Adamson on bass, keyboardist Bob Dickinson, who soon left and was replaced by the keyboard god that is Dave Formula, and drummer Martin Jackson — who also left eventually, to be replaced by John Doyle.
They soon released a single, at the time sans keyboarist, entitled "Shot By Both Sides"
, followed by an album, 1978's brilliant Real Life.
The following year, they released the far more laid-back Secondhand Daylight,
followed by 1980's more popular (though not necessarily better) The Correct Use Of Soap.
This in turn was followed in 1981 by Magic, Murder and the Weather
, but by then McGeoch had quit (going on to develop as a bit of a New Wave
guitar god in other bands
), and although the band found a series of short-term replacements, Devoto broke up Magazine and more or less quite the music business to work as a photo archivist.
in 2009, with Noko taking the place of McGeoch, who had died
in the intervening years. Adamson left after a while, being replaced by Jon "Stan" White, and the band released a new album, No Thyself
. At the last count, they were officially still going, if not very visibly active.They are a band who attract some devoted admirers, inside the music industry as well as among fans,
though their style and image also seem to irritate some other people.
Magazine's work and career provide examples of the following tropes:
- Accentuate the Negative: Their songs tend towards angst-verging-on-wangst with a lot of cynicism and paranoia. However, it's leavened with a fair amount of dry humour and surrealism.
- Album Title Drop:
- "So this is real life..." — from the track "Definitive Gaze".
- "Cut-out shapes in second-hand daylight..." from "Cut-Out Shapes".
- Cover Version: Of the Goldfinger movie theme, and Sly And The Family Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)".
- Deadpan Snarker: Devoto's mostly impassive and goggle-eyed pose doesn't break when he delivers faintly surreal ironies in a flat monotone.
- The Eeyore: Appears to be Devoto's nature, although he may be smiling — or at least laughing — behind that facade of disdain. With lines like "By force of habit, I am an insect/I have to confess I'm proud as hell of that fact", he's certainly aware of how he looks.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "The Thin Air", opening side 2 of Secondhand Daylight. The effect is spoiled on the CD version, as CDs don't have separate side 2s.
- Fading into the Next Song: "The Thin Air" into "Back to Nature".
- Grief Song: Sarcastically averted by "Hello Mr Curtis (with apologies)", which proclaims Devoto's desire "To die like a king — Like Elvis, on some godforsaken toilet".
- Love Hurts: The default assumption when any Magazine song deals with relationships (if the pain is not of consensual emotional BDSM). Note titles such as "Because You're Frightened", "Rhythm of Cruelty", and "I Wanted Your Heart".
- Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness: One of the band's 21st century songs, "Of Course Howard (1979)", incorporates some text written by Devoto back in the '70s. Devoto gets a little ironic at his younger self's pretensions — but one feels that the younger Devoto would have understood.
- Mondegreen: "Model Worker" includes the line "I know the cadre will look after me", which makes sense in context. However, some listeners managed to miss that this was a love song phrased in the vocabulary of Chinese communist propaganda, and believed that they heard "I know that Carter will look after me", taking this as some kind of satirical reference to then-US President Jimmy Carter. Devoto didn't bother fighting the mistake very hard; when Ronald Reagan replaced Carter, he started singing "I know that Reagan will look after me".
- Nerd: The band may play powerful post-punk rock and weird faintly jazzy electronic pop, but the scrawny, balding Devoto comes across as a New Wave nerd. He added horn-rimmed glasses to his look when the band reformed.
- No Honor Among Thieves: The suggested theme of "Shot By Both Sides":
Shot by both sides
I don't ask who's doing the shooting
Shot by both sides
We must have come to a secret understanding
- Not So Different: "Feed the Enemy" darkly invokes this trope, suggesting that supposed differences are just someone's convenient lies.
"We always have to feed the enemy"
- Oop North: The band are originally from Manchester.
- Precision F-Strike: Despite their punk-era pedigree, Magazine were never a particularly sweary band. Which means that use of the F-bomb in "Permafrost" makes it a bleak and sinister song.
- Progressive Rock: Sometimes mentioned by critics in relation to the band, and especially to the synth-heavy Secondhand Daylight. As critics who favored Post Punk music rarely favored prog, this wasn't always meant as a compliment.
- Pun-Based Title: No Thyself.
- Puppet King: "Motorcade" seems to be about such a leader:
"The man at the centre of the motorcade/Has learned to tie his boots"
- Self-Deprecation: Devoto is humorously aware of his own less-than-imposing image. "A Song From Under the Floorboards" makes this clear in a way that may be considered Self-Parody:
I am angry I am ill and I'm as ugly as sin
My irritability keeps me alive and kicking
I know the meaning of life, it doesn't help me a bit
I know beauty and I know a good thing when I see it
This is a song from under the floorboards
This is a song from where the wall is cracked
By force of habit, I am an insect
I have to confess I'm proud as hell of that fact
- Siamese Twin Songs: "The Thin Air" and "Back to Nature". The band have used the two songs to start some of their stage shows.