Album review: Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone?
Rhosian Woolridge checks out the eagerly-anticipated new longplayer from Canada-based duo Majical Cloudz :
“What’s the point of a sad, sad song?” asks singer Devin Welsh on Are You Alone?, the title track from Majical Cloudz’s album of the same name. It’s a question with a lot of merit. Why do people love sad music? What’s the point? We make a claim to the pursuit of happiness, but underneath it all are we just a throng of self-deprecating masochists? It extends beyond music, too. Film, literature, theatre. What’s with the penchant for tear-jerkers?
Thankfully, there’s happy news for people who listen to sad songs. They don’t actually make you sadder! So, sit down with a cup of tea, or something equally emotive, and listen to Majical Cloudz’s second studio album because it’s beautiful and sad in the best way.
Opening song Disappeared is a stripped back torch song, where Welsh reminisces about an old love “All I want is for you to talk to me the way you used to”. It’s calming but eerie, like a friend that sits you down before telling you something has gone terribly wrong. Disappeared softens the blow before the next eleven gut-wrenchers.
On Control Welsh sings to the steady thud of percussion. It’s a song about outgrowing someone you love. He asks “Will you let me change / I want to / but you want me the same”. On paper it’s sometimes hard to distinguish his lyrics from vulnerable or plain mopey. In song, however, Welsh doesn’t come off as just another sad-sack. Majical Cloudz bring something completely new.
Stand out single Silver Car Crash is less of a dear-diary exercise, and more of a narrative. Welsh opens with “I never show it / but I am always laughing / I want to kiss you / inside a car that’s crashing / and we will both die laughing / while I am holding on to you”. He sings with same harrowing candour as Morrissey does on There Is a Light that Never Goes Out.
Downtown is a near-perfect song. “Is it really this fun when you’re on my mind” asks Welsh over the top of Otto’s spooky synth. But behind the gloom and heartbreak, there’s something undeniably tongue-in-cheek. In the Downtown video, the Montreal duo muck around, twirling past empty urban parks and downtown railroads. It is black and white and completely haunting, but for some reason you can’t help but smile.
What separates Majical Cloudz from other solipsistic sad boys that sing about red wine and sleeping pills (I still love you, Matt Berninger), is that Welsh doesn’t seem consumed by loneliness, but rather by life itself. Happiness, fear, heartbreak, insanity, inanity, and everything else in between. This is what makes Majical Cloudz so special. Instead of leaving you isolated or despondent, Are You Alone? can make you feel elated simply for knowing that there are other people out there who feel the same too.
Majical Cloudz will tug on your heartstrings all the way through, but ultimately bring you back to the comfort of being part of a collective. Welsh faithfully reminds us, “If you’re lonely, you don’t have to be”.
Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone? is out now via Matador Records / Remote Control Records.
Review by Rhosian Woolridge.