Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cloud Cult's Latest Album Light Chasers Disappoints

Cloud Cult is an amazing band. It’s as simple as that. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out recently that not only were they releasing a new album this year, but that they were letting fans download it before its intended release. Unfortunately, as far as typical Cloud Cult albums go, Light Chasers is far from astonishing.

This six-piece (not including the on-stage painters) group from Minnesota has managed to capture the attention of its fans through the use of experimental electronics, foot-tapping drum beats, melodic strings, and some of the most inspired lyrics ever to grace a compact disc. This being their seventh official studio release, it’s no wonder all of these key features of the band seem to finally be at a "fizzling point"; the originality of the group is now beginning to wear thin. Eventually a band this talented simply cannot continue to create such memorable masterpieces like that of Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus or The Meaning of 8, yet some (myself included) began to worry they were beginning to lose it after their last release Feel Good Ghosts. While Ghosts certainly is a fine album, it marked the beginning of the lack of depth seen previously, and now we find ourselves at the release of their latest and most disappointing album in Light Chasers, which is a shame as their Running With the Wolves EP released not too long ago showed a lot of promise for their continuing future.

While Cloud Cult has managed to walk a fine line concerning whether or not their albums are actually “concept albums,” they’ve finally chosen to cross over and declare this an actual concept album telling a story through space and light in songs with multiple parts. Rather than having subtle references to childlike innocence through the use of standalone stories, Craig Minowa seems to be inadvertently declaring he has run out of ideas as he sings and strums through each bland song in an almost monotone fashion. All of the songs blend together in a typical concept album style, yet this seems to be where the album falters the most. All the songs literally blend together. There are no individual lyrics that make your mind shiver like it would while reading a Kurt Vonnegut novel. There are no memorable drumbeats or guitar riffs that stick with you until the next morning. It all just seems so…bland. I kept waiting for something to happen, and all of a sudden I realized I had listened to the album straight through multiple times in a row.

That’s not to say it’s a terrible album. Even though all of the components that typically comprise a Cloud Cult album are lackluster in this outing, they’re still there. While the record may fault on not having anything extremely memorable, the songs still seem to be well-crafted, specifically in the opening and closing tracks “Unexplainable Stories” and “There’s So Much Energy In Us” as well as “Running With the Wolves” smack dab in the center. I only hope we see something a little less forgettable in Minowa and the gang’s next adventure.


  1. I really love this album, their most cohesive to date in my opinion. It is a concept album but what of that? I like the concept. There are a couple of songs in the middle that aren't so hot, but what about The Exploding People or Forces of the Unseen or Blessings Part 2?

  2. Dunno, Josh. I've listened to it a few more times since writing this, and I'm still getting the overall bland feeling from it. Even the songs you mentioned just aren't doing it for me like all of their previous work has. And again, don't get me wrong; this is one of my all-time favorite bands. I just think this album is their "blandest" (my bland vocabulary is running out of words for bland). That's not necessarily saying it's a bad album, though.

  3. This is one of my favourite Cloud Cult albums and I have to say I disagree with basically everything you have said about it. I thought it was beautiful and well-made, and touches upon some seriously intense subjects. Each individual song stood out to me.

    I don't know why you feel this way about it.

  4. i love this album too i feel as though its a new exploration into a different part of their soul

  5. I agree with you Peter. With Cloud Cult being one of my favourites bands, I did expect this to have something like Transistor Radio, Take Your Medicine or The Ghost Inside Our House that would be immediately diverse.

    I feel it similar to Feel Good Ghosts, where the experimental and stand-alone nature of the tracks started to dwindle. I'll still listen to this album and love it - it has some particularly heart-breaking lines.

    The album, I feel, is in no way filler. It is doing what they feel comfortable doing, just doing it again.

  6. Man I have to say I totally disagree with this..

    I'm a fan of the older stuff as well but this album really pushed Cloud Cult over the top for me. Same originality and deep (mind-blowing at times) lyrics and far better production values and sound quality than any of their previous albums.

    Exploding People is an incredible song.

    I just don't understand what's not to like.

  7. I heard "Energy" on the radio and went out and immediately bought the album. I live in Minneapolis but never was really into Cloud Cult.
    I literally wept upon first listen to this album, partly due to the fact I am expecting my first child but still. This album is fantastic and could only be described as "bland" by someone who doesn't truly understand the strong connection and emotion involved in carrying and caring for a child.

  8. I know this thread is long dead, but it's important to note that the people calling this album "bland" are doing so in comparison to the band's other albums. A bland Cloud Cult album still trumps most of the new music being produced today. Honestly though, I don't think it's bland at all. If anything, they've become a lot more sonically accessible and can be appreciated by more than the fringe indy crowd...