No one expected the influential post-punk British band Magazine to reunite, but their triumphant 2009 return proved Morrissey and Radiohead had been right all along. Now they have released their first studio album in three decades.
"Kurt Cobain, Ian Curtis and Elvis Presley are giants of the rock world, aren't they? I'm just a little guy in there, a pygmy amongst giants," says Howard Devoto somewhat disingenuously. The frontman, once called 'the Most Important Man Alive' by the NME, is talking about "Hello Mister Curtis (with apologies)", the arresting track on No Thyself, Magazine's compelling listen of a new album.
Devoto may be chastising the iconic frontmen of Joy Division and Nirvana for taking the easy way out but his tongue is partly in his cheek and he knows of what he speaks. By his own admission, in his Magazine pomp, Devoto was, "a very intense young man. I went in and out of depression on a regular basis and I wrote about that a lot. There was gallows humour in songs like 'Philadelphia'," he admits.
Formed in late 1977 by Devoto after he left Buzzcocks, Magazine released three ground-breaking albums – Real Life, Secondhand Daylight and The Correct Use Of Soap – whose cinemascopic beauty impressed critics but didn't connect with the mainstream buying public. They were a cult band.
"The records we were making 30 years ago were designed to be timeless. Now that seems to appear reasonably believable," Devoto says.
He was unsure he wanted to commit to a full-length new Magazine studio album, but the album sounds remarkably contemporary alongside The Horrors or Metronomy, while bearing all the classic Magazine hallmarks, including Devoto's unique gift for the eminently quotable line or title.
'No Thyself' is out now