Album Review: Petal – ‘Magic Gone’

Posted: by The Editor

It’s incredible how some records come out at just the right time. Petal’s Kiley Lotz uses ‘Magic Gone’ to unfold a three year journey into 38 minutes, just enough time for the listener to become emotionally invested in the whirlwind of beautiful vocals and composition.

From NYC, Philly, and back again, Lotz has been a Tightrope Walker and Miracle Clinger, alternatively known as Side A and Side B of Magic Gone, a thematic, symbolic summation of the past for Lotz. As a Tightrope Walker, Lotz was on the verge of entering mental health treatment and as a Miracle Clinger, she was in recovery. The duality equally represents how the magic of life can disappear, no matter how hard you may try to keep it enchanted.

Album opener, “Better Than You”, is a personal narrative, an album theme. Fast paced, Lotz admits to some knowing little of the mental struggle she’s going through while playing a show. Barely being able to play it, due to the high impact of depressive feelings. It’s a transparent view into what we as fans don’t really spot on the outside under the dim lights.

In her dreamy high register voice, Lotz wonders “Maybe if you weren’t ‘you’, people would seem to care about what it is you even do,” a relateable ode to feeling alone and caught up in the life you’ve built for yourself. The most intense lyrical moments on the record, often happen in this beautiful, lofty high register of Lotz’s voice that has such an impact.

“Tightrope” identifies, if not the entire record, Side A. In short, it admits defeat in a grizzly, slow rock way. In a series of metaphors, the track entertains the deprecating thought of trying to make sense of dark things by dressing them in beauty. Lotz confirms this by repeating the hook, “The truth is just a piece of coal dressed as coal” after identifying the margin for error is hard to give yourself when you can’t ignore past mistakes.

In fact, “I’m Sorry” and “Comfort” seem to relish in those past mistakes, exploring a star-crossed period. The last minute of “I’m Sorry” builds in a way that punctures the galaxy of black holes Lotz explains friendship falling into.

Like “Comfort”, the track “Shy” uses a collection of harmonies that present a frustrating position in love. Identifying the moment a partner falls out of love and how that is dealt with, the two are full of love and confusion. While subject matter across this A side is heavy hitting, addressing them is not only difficult, but a necessity during times of feeling solitary.

As previously mentioned, Side B was written in recovery and begins with the title track, an excellent use of drums that build the frustration and annoyance of being completely done in a relationship. At one point, these drumbeats could’ve represented the pounding of a heart. But now that the magic has dissipated the gold, what’s left is coal and the unsettling, relatable feeling of just wanting someone to go away. Lotz’s vocals are still incredibly gorgeous and sparkle, but even they carry a tinge of annoyance.

The next two tracks, “Shine” and “Carve” are some of the most pure and raw vocal takes I’ve heard in a long while. My mouth dropped at how incredible Lotz’s voice is. The impactful delivery seems to come naturally for Petal, and that’s just really cool. There’s honestly no other way to say it.  

“Stardust” closes out the record, not only a reference to the previous star themes from the A side, but also the failed relationship theme that was explained within them. When all is said and done, “Stardust” is what’s next. It’s the now. And at its end, Lotz picks up intensity musically and vocally to that of the first two tracks. There’s a lot of uncertainty, sure, because who’s to say on a lot of subjects? But one subject I think can be definitive for a lot of people is whether they’ve loved someone, which Lotz confirms is true.

While not a record of bubbly pop hits or slamming rock beats, Magic Gone is an exploration of vulnerability. It pulls the curtain back to reveal what has always been there but hidden until the point of inescapability. Simply put, it’s the record for when you stop running because you’ve run out of road. But being forced to turn back and face it might not be the worst thing.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great Phenomenal

Magic Gone is available via Run For Cover Records.

Kayla Carmichael // @kaylacarmicheal 

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