From the first view bars of ‘Cars & It’s Autumn’, the opening track on Cloud’s Comfort Songs there is a feeling of warmth, with the group vocal section giving off a feeling of friendship and camaraderie. It’s a theme that runs throughout the album. It’s complex in its simplicity with guitars, piano, string and brass weaving in and out of the album. It sounds, on the surface at least, as if it’s been jumbled together but this makes it feel idyllic somehow. Going back to ‘Cars & It’s Autumn’ for example, a simple cymbal beat gives way to a poignant piano solo, that is eventually joined by a subtle horn section before that choral-style vocal returns. Think Polyphonic Spree or We’re From Barcelona - a feeling of collective synergy that beats through every track.
Cloud is the brainchild of 21 year-old Los Angelino Tyler Taormina, who has created a vibrant and warming collection of songs. The pace is slow, despite the pop melodies that drive it, and that allows it to penetrate the listener’s mind a little deeper as the mood of the album changes. On ‘Wish Little Fish’ for example, Taormina’s vocal is buried beneath drums and strings, moving slowly through a song that he somehow still utterly owns. It opens up more on ‘Boy Sees Mirror’, which is quicker, a more guitar driven largely instrumental track that stops you dead when Taormina picks up the mic: "I know itʼs fucked up but I wish you the worst, how you call me your best friend I called you my lover, so Iʼll see you on Sunday until then just fuck off". His vocal feels concurrently charming and painful, not an easy thing to pull off. There’s a rawness to his voice - reminiscent somehow of Fantasy Rainbow’s Oliver Catt (something that is likely to be mere coincidence).
‘Stomach Pit’ is the album at it strongest, with lush strings driving a female vocal. It verges on gospel in melody thanks to it replicating Amazing Grace.
For a debut it’s impressive, the fact that this debutant is 21 is more impressive still though on occasions it feels over done - ‘Desperation Club’ being too long is one of the few examples of where Comfort Songs feels uncomfortable. And closing track Halley’s Comet’s jazz sound is completely at odds with the rest of the album and would have been better left aside.
For someone so young, Taormina gives the impression of being overly loaded with doubt and exasperation at the world (particularly on Mother Sea where a marked aggression and desperation emerges), but that means anyone who feels similarly confused about growing into adulthood can relate this record. Musically, it’s mature and the use of strings and brass throughout provides a depth that gives the 11 tracks more resonance and emotion. That’s not to say it’s a “big” record. It still feels intimate and all the better for it. Impressive stuff.