Cloud Control: Bliss Release

So-so effort from Australian freak-folkers.

Cloud Control

Bliss Release

Label: Infectious
US Release Date: 2011-11-21
UK Release Date: 2011-05-23

This Australian outfit gets things off to a nice start here -- a marriage of Avi Buffalo and Fleet Foxes, latter day U2’s swagger gets thrown in with touches of Beatles-esque vocal harmonies. The good stuff is most evident on the very tip of the album’s front end when the song quality is fairly high and the ambitions are low. The opening "Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh Why)" drones and dribbles like the Black Angels joined in holy communion with some sort of hitherto unknown freak-folk outfit from the outer reaches of Slovenia. "There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight" feels like a natural for the live arena -- one can easily imagine arms akimbo, hands (both) clapping to the beat, and a light show that accentuates everything that’s right about the band and their music.

"Death Cloud", on the other hand, feels like a faulty carbon copy of the previous two songs, as though the group decided to reiterate something it had just said in the event that anyone missed it. It’s all a bit too much of the intangible, lacking in grit, while trying too hard to be popular. "Ghost Story" begins to feel a bit too familiar to the point that one wonders if this isn’t a Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons jam session that both groups decided to bin.

Temporary redemption comes in the form of "Gold Canary", a highly rhythmic and enchanting chant that is immediately likeable and akin to the Beach Boys wandering around in the outback on mild psychedelics. It may even be the best song on the entire set, the sort of thing that sets ol’ Cloud Control apart from countless punters who’d like to make their bid for indie rock glory. "This Is What I Said", which feels just a smidge out of character, beats about 40 percent of the material that comes before it and although "Just For Now" isn’t bad, it’s a reminder that the world already has two Avett brothers and that they’re probably enough.

The record’s three remaining tracks "The Rolling Stones", "Hollow Drums" and "My Fear #1" are most remarkable in that the band never wavers in its ability to sing and play at the top of its game even when the material isn’t all that. As debuts go this is in its way a throwback to a bygone era when bands offered up flawed but fertile inaugural efforts of the kind that made "promising" a buzz word before there were buzz words.

It seems that the real feat for this band will be to write a set of songs that are consistent in quality and execution next time out, a group of songs that cast off the shadows of the influences -- both real and imagined -- heard here and speaks with heart and soul and not just style.

That might not happen immediately but if Cloud Control can keep a few steps ahead of the hype surrounding it that moment of payoff, when all parts come swiftly and magically into place, is gonna be sweeter than all get out. You can just feel it.


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