Cloud Cult’s newest offering Love (out Tues. Mar. 5) opens with their signature twee sound with rough edges. Craig Minowa’s faltering voice sings “Fly, baby, fly, till nothing can get you down” with enough tenderness teach a cynic hope in the opening You’re The Only Thing in Your Way. It’s a painful song about watching a loved one who is the “wind the flood and the flame” fail to reach their potential through self-defeating behavior or beliefs. Minowa tells this truth without reserve, and without cruelty.
This is the type of optimism to be found throughout the album—the kind of hope that takes work in the face of pain or self-doubt or other darknesses.
The album continues with It’s Your Decision. The piece opens with melancholic cello followed by piano like a stained glass window—delicate and colorful—until the song breaks into a postmodern rock. This is musical symbolism for the lyrical content of the album: harsh, driving, steady, delicate and pretty. They don’t just sing about life, they say, this is what it sounds like. Track three is the album’s thesis and description: Complicated Creation.
Complicated Creation starts with a manic chant reminiscent of Tiny Cities made of Ashes followed by the grunge rock ode, 1x1x1.
Sleepwalker is the standout track of the album. Its ethereal carnivalesque feel sounds like Thomas Newman writing for a music box. It is only made creepier by Minowa’s whispering “We are your conscience. We thought we’d tell, you’ve been sleepwalking through most of your days. Your eyes are open, your body’s moving, your lips are speaking, but you’re far from awake.”
The album then heads to a forceful/happy denouement. It Takes A Lot pulls us through death and birth and broken hearts to the Catharsis where a child happily declares their love atop a lush soundtrack. (Like Raconte-Moi Une Histoire, without the frogs.)
Finally The Show Starts Now is like a benediction, sending us off into the world with the reminder to love and live, here and now. It’s music that’s not afraid to push the boundaries and make something new with all the same old instruments and rhythms. It’s music that’s not afraid to be dark, and not afraid of sounding naive.