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.