In 2008 I had concert tickets to see Cloud Cult in New York City. This was to be my inaugural concert, and with a band that I had quickly become smitten. Then romance intervened, romance ended, and the stinging regret of missing out on this monumental band hit home, further compounded by their decision to split. For those unfamiliar, Cloud Cult is a band of unique sonic and emotional invention, revolving around the the expressions of frontman Craig Minowa.
What distinguishes Love from previous albums is the stripped-down presentation. The opening track “You’re the Only Thing in Your Way” is acoustic guitar and hushed vocals, a serenade to some unknown, an expression of either platonic or romantic love, undying support. Minowa sings, “Breathe, baby, breathe, until all is calm/You are the wind, the flood and the flame.” There is an undying support, a total encapsulation of love paired with a tender piano and sharp lo-fi guitar.
Though Love is not simple. It crosses into the pain of being responsible for and obligated to another. There are sweeping (what I would like to call “metal” strings) orchestrations that build and provide tension, a tenebrous connection between the selflessness support of before and the introverted cry for help of “Leave me alone, I’m going inwards, I’ve got work to do disarming land mines.”
Every song on the album is fraught with some extreme emotion. Cloud Cult plays with a genre and infuses it with an instant connect-ability. The band never gets bogged down in too much atmosphere, instead using their instruments to play with an environment that allows the lyrics to spring outward like flowers.
My introduction to Cloud Cult was a song that featured two minutes of instrumentation. During that time I was rapt, unable to listen to anything else, then by the time the vocals cut in, I was floored, completely lost to the beauty of the band. Each song on Love makes for a good listen. Each song requires a minute attention to detail, trying to capture what storyline is going on, what is happening to what characters and just how it means to love through the most difficult and painful times as well as through the light and fluffy.