Local Feature Album Review: Bryson Cone – “Magnetism”
Bryson Cone is a Portland-based musician and producer who sank his teeth into the PNW music scene as a founding member of the synth-rock band Fog Father. That band’s 2014 EP Razzle Dazzle had an eccentric charisma and psychedelic texture that went heavy on woozy synth lines; that charisma and psych rock feel has carried over into Cone’s full-length debut as a solo artist the satisfying Magnetism. The album is set for release on Cleopatra Records in February, featuring contributions from members of Cat Hoch Band, Paper Gates and Reptaliens.
The opener “Devotion” sets the tone for the ten song collection, casting the proceedings in a sleepy cloud of psychedelia where Cone’s svelte, Bryan Ferry-esque vocals guide the way. For the most part, this collection delivers is gift-wrapping new wave/electro earworm in a hazy aesthetic. In songs like “Color of Love”, “Forcefields”, and “Stop!”, Cone’s knack for putting together crazily-catchy melodies definitely shines through. The lyrics on Magnetism also hold an odd fascination, often evoking a sense of loss and of loss of control in relationships. Even though the album’s tone comes off as relaxed and playful, the tone belies the melancholy underneath the surface.
On top of all this, Cone’s eccentricity shines through in the knowing, detached tone to songs like “Desire” and “The Mirage”, as well as the tasty synths and saxophone licks providing decoration. Much like Fog Father, Magnetism’s languorous sense of mystery sometimes evokes ‘70s outsiders like Gary Wilson, whom Cone will be joining on tour with Part Time this month. One of the most arresting moments on the whole album is “Basiphobia”. Its bizarre lyrical imagery of a siren with hypnotic eyes beckons listeners to follow Cone down into the depths of the sea on a moonlit night. It ends up sounding like a sinister yacht rock soundtrack to a nervous breakdown, complete with trilling synths and assertive saxes. Bryson Cone has made a solid debut in Magnetism. Its seductive aura of tension and mystery makes it one of the most compelling PNW debuts in recent years, for sure.