With buzz bands like Cults, Givers, Tennis, and every other single-word-named group throwing their hat in the ring for the title of Band of the Moment, nostalgic, poppy music is nearly inescapable these days. As catchy as their melodies may be, as sugary as the vocals are (and, man, are they sweet), there’s always something missing. Whether its structure, cohesiveness, or a sound that never wears, the albums stick for a listen or two and then fade. Australia’s Cloud Control clearly missed the memo, because Bliss Release — while certainly poppy and undeniably nostalgic — not only sticks but stays.
Throughout Bliss Release, Cloud Control masterfully craft their own special brand of folk-infused, psychedelic pop. Toying with looping (“Death Cloud”), soulful chanting (“Gold Canary”), and a lot of tambourine along the way, each song’s base of keys, heavy bass, and distorted guitars morphs into something greater. Opener “Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh Why)” offers the perfect example of this, as a drone and acoustic strum swell into a triumphant cacophony of hand-claps, swirling psychedelics, and a downright grungy guitar lick. The vocal performances of Alister Wright and Heidi Lenffer are the icing on the sonic cake. Wright usually leads the way, his wails recalling James Mercer, especially on “There’s Nothing in the Water We Can’t Fight”. When they sing together, though, Cloud Control reaches a new dimension: Her lofty, breathy delivery paired with his more direct, quivering voice creates shiver-inducing harmonies (most notably on folksy “Just for Now”).
Cloud Control’s lyrics may not be revolutionary, but that isn’t the point of Bliss Release. It is a demonstration of truly versatile, fresh talent, a debut full to the brim of completely absorbing, compelling songs. In a line indicative of the album’s general sentiments, Wright and Lenffer sing, “Sometimes the world’s real hard to understand.” Fortunately, the hardest thing about Cloud Control to understand is why we’ve taken so long to find out about them.
Essential Tracks: “Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh Why)”, “Just for Now”