Search The Line of Best Fit
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Tough Baby is an attention grabbing and therapeutic return from Crack Cloud

"Tough Baby"

Release date: 16 September 2022
Crack Cloud - Tough Baby cover
15 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Sam Eeckhout

Tough Baby opens with a recorded monologue that is both heartbreaking and inspiring. It is that of Danny Choy, the late father of Crack Cloud's Zach Choy, who passed away at 29 with leukemia.

In the message, he reminds his family "Music is an excellent way to let your anger out." It's a therapeutic call-to-arms for what Crack Cloud's sophomore album will represent over the following ten songs.

The concept of art as therapy is par for the course for the Vancouver-based collective – who have described their group "as our recovery program." The cathartic, sometimes uncomfortable therapy moments are infused into Tough Baby, exploring the full range of the human experience. On their debut album Pain Olympics, the message was powered by inner darkness. But here, on Tough Baby, they've instead pulled open the curtains and cast their gaze outward.

The band wastes no time wading in, when early fast-paced tunes like "The Politician" and "Costly Engineered Illusion" drive forward with jittery basslines and a Talking Heads meets Clash energy. The album throbs and flutters, falling apart in places and consciously putting itself back together in others. Riffs accelerate and crumble, spurning conventions of song structure, while lead singer Zach Choy channels his inner Bowie and Morrissey throughout.

"Please Yourself" is an essential glue that holds the record together. With a delicious mix of layered vocals and shiny horns, the song is the perfect microcosm of the album - a tree trunk swept up by a flowing river, along for the ride wherever nature decides. The tune beautifully morphs into a rare guitar solo and soft piano outro that extends beyond its potential before resting nearly five minutes long.

Tough Baby shines a light on every color of humanity's emotional fabric. From the anger shown on "Criminal" to the desires on "Please Yourself," all the pieces are bright and intricate, crackling and sparkling like magnetic energy. Sometimes the magnets are pulled together, and sometimes they are pushed apart.

It's hard to find a seat to settle into anywhere on the record, as Tough Baby refuses to sit still. If you think you know where a song is going, you don't. There is an outright refusal for convention – and a tune could take a complete right turn at any moment. It's a refreshing persistence, but it does require your focus – throwing Tough Baby on as background fodder when cooking will be a wasted experience.

While all the intricate pieces don't necessarily fit together – Crack Cloud doesn't fall victim to being too creative for its own good. A soul is radiating from Tough Baby, daring you to feel, urging us to contemplate ourselves and our planet.

Tough Baby demands your attention; it's a dizzying array of vibrant innovation and determination to be counterintuitive. In the end, just like therapy, if you aren't fully present, you're only cheating yourself.

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