Firmly bolting the stable door after the horse has well and truly departed, I finally got round to reviewing this elegant and lovely album after the likes of Pitchfork and other mighty music news sources already gave it a hefty pat on the back. So with the knowledge that it in now way requires my meager help or approval, what’s this album like ? Well you get a pretty good idea by the end of the first song (and single) “Cars And It’s Autumn” which starts out as a folksy choir singalong, then morphs into a pirouette-ing piano-led Sufjan Stevens like sort of an affair before dissolving into a weird ephemeral noises. It’s both intimate and epic, avant garde and pop, accessible yet intellectual.
Tyler Taormina (for he is Cloud) doesn’t have the strongest voice, but he puts it to good honest use and, love it or hate it, you can hear passion and honest emotion throughout. The songs on the album are all very melodic and revolve around a pretty standard band set up (guitar, bass, drums and vocals) but given a dreamy symphonic production makeover that puts it in a different category than its constituent parts.
I mentioned Sufjan Stevens earlier because it’s the only reasonable comparison I ever heard in the album on a consistent basis but there are other fleeting influences from Animal Collective to The Beach Boys, both known for pretty melodies that you can walk round singing all day. Cloud is too honest an album to be guilty of plagiarism though and the influences are really just that, not appropriations.
My only criticisms of the album would be that “Stomach Pit” sounds like a mash up of “Amazing Grace” and “Auld Lang Syne” with a sweet female vocal, but its similarities to these two traditional anthems is too much for me to bear to be able to listen to it. I’m sure it’s intentional but even the trumpet and spiralling vocals can’t make me think of anything but these two songs. I also think the album ends really well at “A Light Wish Weighs A Lot” with a droning glass harp and some cut up intoned phrases, so when it carries on with “Desperation Club” (a refrain from an earlier song) it feels a little bit like overkill (it’s a pretty long album at nearly an hour). However, I’m of a mind to tell myself to shut the fuck up, because if it did end where it sounds like it should, you wouldn’t get the boozy bar jazz / blues of “Halley’s Comet” which is the song that should be played at the end of every night, in every bar, everywhere and forever.
If you have a soul, whether derived from chemical reactions or some form of deity based spirituality, you’ll get something out of Cloud.