‘Dojo Rising’ is the first example of this refined Cloud Control, though the opening 25 seconds may sound like more of the same from the Australian psychedelic pop rockers, it’s a far more understated affair that slowly marches in to the real soul of this record. When the chorus comes around it’s a slow and powerful surge that with the minimum effort will send you bowling over, catching you squarely on the jaw with its cutting yet catchy hook.
The whole album is interlaced with these flash-in-the-pan hooks that will sear themselves into your brain, leaving their brand to flare up in your memory for months to come.
Unfortunately there are two tracks that don’t quite live up the hype, so I’ll get them out of the way relatively early. ‘Promises’, does bring back some of their oddball melodies and twirling vocal harmonies, but it’s encased within a song that wouldn’t sound out of place being sang by Donny Osmond. It ends up using the line ‘I’m just a mirror for your love’ as an insubstantial crutch. ‘Island Living’ is the only other weak point that sits rather at odds with the rest of the album - like a shiny new skyscraper sitting on a beautiful coastline. It’s not bad per se, but it attracts the odd disapproving comment in its context.
But back to the good stuff. The band’s influences and peers have left their impression all over this album, making it a culmination of CC’s musical tastes and experiences - a postcard of their lives. After ‘Moonrabbit’’s sun-drenched opening notes fall away, the band’s love for vocal harmonisation comes back into play and there’s no denying the influence that the Beach Boys have exacted on this record. If you can make it through this song without smiling then maybe you should check your pulse.
Then comes the mystical fashionista of ‘The Smoke, The Feeling’ that manages to blend elements of every cool song to have come out over the last couple of years and play out as the pinnacle of beauty. It’s the musical equivalent of The Great British Bake Off’s Ruby Tandoh smiling at you for four and a half minutes.
‘Scar’ again is an amalgamation of sounds, so here’s some names I’m just going to throw at you that cropped up whilst I was listening to it. Surfer Blood, MGMT, Swim Deep and Jaws. If you like any songs by those guys, prepare for it all to be totally eclipsed by this track. This is a song that should, in just one chorus, encapsulate the youthful feeling of the first day of summer. ‘Happy Birthday’ again showcases the band’s new found knack for penning a powerful chorus line that’ll have you sitting there waiting and wishing for it to kick in sooner. But… all too soon it’s over and you’ve got to wait another 30 seconds or so for your next fix of that foot-wagging, head-bobbing goodness. Plus, I hate my birthdays too, well done Cloud Control for voicing the real issues of today.
The guys do manage to fit in a little bit of fan service in the form of ‘Iceage Heatwave’, but updated for feel of the new album. Those old familiar guitars and scaling bass lines are back, and bright organic melodies paired with poppy psychedelia, as if Tame Impala decided they’d like people to sing along to their music when they’re walking down the street, are out in abundance. A last hurrah maybe in the face of the looming ‘Tombstone’, a dark and sombre affair that takes the psychedelia sound in a very different direction to what fans of the band may expect. Less of the hazy summer days and more of an uncomfortable trip inside the mind of a city in it’s early hours. But they can’t end on that - it wouldn’t be fitting to leave you down and out.
Instead, the eponymous album closer sounds almost exactly how you’d imagine the end of this album should go. The Beach Boys playing the last song of the night, an emotional wreck of a slow jam that almost surprises you when it doesn’t result in everything around you fading to black as it closes. In a perfect world this would have been the last song on the final episode of Happy Days. As it is, it’s an impeccable end to the truly wondrous world of Cloud Control and the end of the visit in to their sublime collective mind.
By Mikey Rush
Watch the video for 'Scar'.