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Cloud Control - Bliss Release

‘Bliss’ may not stretch critical boundaries, but it’s a light, catchy, debut album.

In the past, Australian music could easily be accused of much creative and critical chagrin, gorging itself on hard rock and sugary pop, bedfellow of the surfing video and beautiful, but bland, TV. But from recent betterment has spawned a burgeoning milieu, from which spring Cloud Control, sweeping down from Sydney’s Blue Mountains, to win the Australian music prize, with a blend of psychedelic combinations and beguiling folk harmonies, with their debut release ‘Bliss Release’.

Laying its proverbial cards on the table, ‘Meditation Song # 2 (Why, Oh Why)’ is a formula for the album writ large, opening with acoustic guitar backed, three and four part harmonies, before the switch to heavily distorted electric guitar and a haunting organ backed bridge, flirt with a change in direction, even if the underlying song structure remains more or less the same.

Throughout the album, the hauntingly bittersweet, boy-girl vocal harmonies are consistently impressive, the ‘oohs’, ‘ahhhs’, and ‘whoops’ accompanied by a range of handclaps, and acoustic or jangly electric guitar chords, setting a varied, and often schizophrenic tone, from the upbeat ‘There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight’, triply ‘Gold Canary’, and the eerie, doom-laden-lament of ‘Ghost Story’, to the more traditional hootenanny of ‘Just For Now’ and acoustic duet of ‘Hollow Drums’.

Whilst the vocals are immediately memorable, the complexity on ‘Bliss’ comes from its psychedelic influences, the hint of complex song structures, using key and time signature changes, and the electric guitars, often used with feedback, wah wahs and fuzzboxes, most evident in the wall of noise in ‘Death Cloud’, and the strong use of keyboards, present in the organ and harpsichord shimmer on the melodic The Rolling Stones.

‘Bliss Release’ will have its detractors. The lyrics are often whimsical and surreal, a staple element of the psychedelic genre, but easy target for critics, though, somewhat ironically, they’re demonstrated most in the ghostly chorus of standout track This Is What I Said, the opening chords, bizarrely, owing much to early Stone Roses, before the track transforms into a soulful 50s pop number, across which wonderfully detached David Byrne inspired vocals float.

In a heavily populous, recently reinvigorated, folk genre, ‘Bliss Release’ may not stretch any critical boundaries, relying on a pleasing, but somewhat formulaic two-part approach, but it’s a light, catchy, debut album, doing easily enough to distinguish both itself, and a previously uninspiring Australian scene. Much promise then, time will tell if they have depth.

Tags: Cloud Control, Reviews, Album Reviews

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