It’ll come as a surprise to no-one who’s followed the career of Canadian collective Crack Cloud - a group who met through an addiction recovery programme and have been making complex, confrontational post-everything explorations ever since – that ‘Pain Olympics’ is not a straightforward listen. Over eight tracks, the record goes on an odyssey-like journey, beginning with the cultish heavenly song of ‘Post Truth (Birth of a Nation)’ and ending with ‘Angel Dust (Eternal Peace)’ - an expansive, orchestral offering that feels something like acceptance. In between, the trials are explicit. A reworking of old track ‘Bastard Basket’ is antsy and claustrophobic, while the monotone, mantra-like rap of ‘The Next Fix (A Safe Space)’ is filled with loathing: “I’m not free / Never was / A good boy / A good man”. Yet while the troubles are integral, ‘Pain Olympics’ also manages to find moments of lightness and creative joy throughout. It’s a tough sport, but Crack Cloud are racing for their lives.
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