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Cloud Room

New York's The Cloud House is a band in a hurry. The 13 song debut album is permeated by a restless sense of impatience that forms an integral part of the band's catchy song writing style. No groove outstays its welcome while the perfunctory melody lines are often followed by short busts of dense sound and in vocalist J they have a lyrical interpreter who thinks nothing of ascending the scales in the middle of a song and pushing its parameters to the full. The end result is a hugely infectious slice of melodic pop-rock tailor made for contemporary audiences weaned on swooping melodies and strong hooks.

And having overcome an early red herring in the shape of 'Sunset Song', that derives its angst from a mash-mash of Coldplay and Radiohead - which is belatedly revisited on the opening part of 'Sunlight Song'- they hit their own trademark groove on the dance friendly 'Blackfoot'.

Vocalist J stamps his authority all over the track with some effortless phrasing that pulls the jaunty hook laden song in many different directions. His clever enunciation serves to emphasize the dynamic of a very radio friendy song.

And if the following 'Waterfall' doesn't quite shake off the feeling that The Cloud Room's songs are steeped in the same melodic groove as many of their contemporaries, it is the songs such as the unashamed commercial potential of 'Hey Now Now' that sets them above their contemporaries. Released as a single, the 'Hey Now Now' opens immediately with the hook, and enjoys a melodic insistency that mirrors The Arcade Fire, with only J's vocal presence ensuring it is unmistakably The Cloud Room.

Curiously, the following beautiful piano line of 'Devoured in Peace', sounds very similar to the preceding track, and is another example of the band's catchy melody lines. The song employs slight tempo changes, stop-time rhythms and sudden avalanches of sound to great effect and is topped by some impressive vocal swoops.

And if the middle of the album is guilty of becoming over reliant on a familiar funky groove as on 'The Hunger', the clever overlapping vocal lines adds a clever extra dynamic to the chorus which is strong enough to give the band another potential single.

If it was only the singles you ever heard from this band you might be forgiven for thinking they might be any one of the current chart pretenders, but the album explores the full repertoire of an outfit who are unafraid to pursue their muse with a battery of rhythmic patterns, layered melodies and big production embellishments that always seek to emphasize the song first. And in vocalist J, they have a charismatic figure who is keen to explore each number to the full, making The Cloud Room that rare kind of a band who in spite of cleverly hinting at the familiar - as on the U2 influenced bonus track 'Follow Me' - stretch the piece into different directions to ultimately produce something compellingly original, contemporary and lest we forget very commercial.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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