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A review of...
Plays With Fire by Cloud
Cloud (aka Tyler Taormina) is back with his third album, and it's a return to the glorious glum Lo-Fi of his debut Comfort Songs, which was crowned the BEST album off 2013 on this very website. It's been 3 years since Cloud's more polished and hopeful second album Zen Summer, and i'm not sure what has happened in between but it makes for a dark and beautiful record.
Plays With Fire opens with a healthy dose of feedback which rings throughout the entire song, offering a distant-dreamlike undercurrent to an otherwise standard acoustic number. It's stark and lonely and it's quite a good indication of the following half hour of music. There's tonnes off stuff that will appeal to fans of Galaxie 500 (see "Mary Goes Mad Again", "Heartfluttered" or the achingly slow and angelically sung "Me, Her & Lavender") and the odd curveball like the electro "Wildfire" which sounds like an early New Order number (from the era when they were still finding their feet). "Oh, So Juvenile" is perhaps the highlight of the record though, perfectly marrying the introspection that Taormina does so well (in this instance with piano and some flourishes of clean guitar) with some warmer and more uplifting brass parts.
We do get the odd moment of pop though. "Two Hands Bound" is a summery joy (musically, not lyrically) and the guitar riff in "Disenchanted" is more Paul Simon than Nick Drake, but it's still called "Disenchanted" and it still has a sad sliding guitar getting in on the action.
Although it's dark, it's not depressing, and even when the music is slow and the singing is solemn, you'll get a bit of brightness breaking through the clouds, such as the wonderful guitar solo which appears disarmingly early on "Comet Happer" or the more raucous one that seems to act as a satisfying release of energy on "Heartfluttered".
Audio Antihero, who are putting this record out (one of the most consistent and under-rated labels around!), seem to be hinting that this may be the last Cloud album. I really hope that's not the case, but if it is, he's gone out on a high note. I think we should all just buy it and then maybe he'll change his mind.