Album Review

Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

Devon Welsh has opened himself up to a point where everything he is and has been is given to ‘Are You Alone?’

Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

Majical Cloudz have always been a deeply emotional band. The band’s breakout, 2013’s ‘Impersonator’, was enough of an affecting listen. ‘Are You Alone?’ takes the instrumentation displayed there and makes it even more sparse, amplifying and isolating vocalist Devon Welsh’s words to a point where they’re never removed from being the absolute focal point.

The blankness filled with Welsh’s never-ending, tossing and turning storytelling is striking in its clarity, and the delivery of every love letter, apology and wish throughout ‘Are You Alone?’ is stunning. When the album’s first line reads “those that forever disappear, all I want is for you to talk to me the way you used to do,” it sets a precedent for a full-length that barely lifts the mood above one of excruciating emotion, and provides a gloom that lords over ‘Are You Alone?’.

Organ sounds for the album were recorded at studios in Montreal belonging to Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and shine brightest on ‘Silver Car Crash’, a track which soars both vocally and in its shimmering instrumentation, projecting a perfect harmony onto its more than slightly bleak subject matter (“I want to kiss you inside a car that’s crashing / and we will both die laughing”).

The album switches between different states of feeling constantly, but on closer ‘Call On Me’, Welsh exclaims “if you want, I will try to extract what is true in my life”, trying to make sense of these polarising feelings that swamp the album. It’s not clear exactly to what extent Welsh’s lyrics are autobiographical, but to a listener it almost becomes unimportant, and empathy gives way to personal reflection, whether it’s meaning something different to each person, or transmitting a universal feeling.

By stripping back the band’s sound even further than ‘Impersonator’ showed, Devon Welsh has opened himself up to a point where everything he is and has been is given to ‘Are You Alone?’, resulting in a listen that encourages looking inwards and coming to the kind of realisations Welsh himself has poured into the album, a record it’s impossible not to be swept up by.

Tags: Majical Cloudz, Reviews, Album Reviews

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