Cloud Control - Dream Cave


Blue Mountain natives Cloud Control, now based in London after winning the Australian Independent Music Award, took two long years out of the studio before returning this month with a brand-spanking-new album, supposedly recorded in Kentish caves. The foursome initially garnered a deluge of applause for their debut Bliss Release, with many noting dream-pop smog, jaunty psych-folk axes and the indie-pop hooks as impressive facets of their sound. Since that lauded first LP was released, they’ve supported a wealth of international and homegrown stars (including Foo Fighters and Weezer) across the planet; however, now they’re back after their globetrotting and opening-act escapades, delivering us a fresh array of noises in the form of Dream Cave.

Lead single ‘Dojo Rising’, for the most part, conjures a similar natural tone to the band’s premiere outing. There’s plenty of jangle-pop guitars and soft-rock percussion – there’s a vague similarity to Noah and the Whale – and while there are also synth strands, they’re used for harmonic effect rather than as a focal point. The chorus is dominated by an anthemic apathy: “Should have probably told you from the start/ but I’m lazy… and I don’t want anything,” and the heart-on-sleeve approach is a mite different from the more fantastical narratives of yesteryear. It’s a portent of the record’s overarching ‘theme’ – there’s no real continual thread lyrically, and the group themselves have described this as less of an album and more like “a collection of songs,” but there’s still a notable trend veering towards soul-bearing.

Stylistically, they ricochet between inspirations and genres – ‘Iceage Heatwave’ recalls a more psychedelic Fleetwood Mac, ‘Promises’ is a prog-rock paean with waltzing beats and chugging rawk riffs, and opener ‘Scream Rave’ dabbles in art-pop territory á la (not Gaga) alt-J with a Jagwar Ma bent. That’s not at all to say they’re derivative, more that they’ve got a scattershot plan of attack in terms of labelled styles or aural familiarity. ‘X’ is wild indie, where the quartet inject ’70s glammy pomp into the chorus and desert-rock half-time drums. ‘The Smoke, The Feeling’ is smothered in ’80s new wave vox and soaring, galloping synths. ‘Island Living’ is a broody, sinister goth-dance cut. It’s all so elegantly messy.

Essentially, the band have just whacked a bit of everything into Dream Cave – which doesn’t sound as bad as you’d have first thought. For starters, though their approach to tone and timbre may differ between tracks, each one has a specific, certain unnameable something that links them all together. Each one is unmistakably like the next, whilst also being utterly far-flung. Moreover, their random onslaught keeps the energy alive, and if you ever feel yourself dozing off, the next cut jerks you back into consciousness; as they say, variety is the spice of life.

On the whole, this is a wonderful album, and a suitable follow-up to Bliss Release. There are a few stumbles – ‘Moon Rabs’ is bloody ridiculous (“Moooooooooooooooon rabbit… you’re the one that’s crazy!”) – but they’re soon forgotten when highlights such as the title track (a gritty doo-wop dirge), the opener and ‘Island Living’ explode. It’s a step towards introspection the band have taken, though they’ve masked most of the intimate narratives with intriguing and/or wacky instrumentation, so perhaps they’re not entirely keen on peeling back the skin to show gooey innards just yet.