Perhaps the most beautiful thing about Bloom And Decay, New Orleans stewards of shimmering astro-pop Giant Cloud’s semi-posthumous final album, is how instantly comfortable it feels even upon first listen. With only 2010’s delightful – but tiny – Old Books EP available for public consumption as the band relentlessly toured until their mid-2011 breakup, the songs that make up Giant Cloud’s first (and last) full-length album have been integral parts of the band’s live set for over a year.
But even after sitting on the shelf for almost six months, the tunes on Bloom And Decay are far from dusty. Principal singers/songwriters Ben Jones and Julie Odell’s preternatural ability to write some of the most disarmingly infectious space-pop has indefinitely extended the shelf-life of these beautifully well-worn songs; as does the fact they were masterfully recorded in former labelmates Dr. Dog‘s technological funhouse of a Philadelphia studio under the tutelage of Rick Flom of fellow psychedelic-leaning Park The Van outfit National Eye.
The flawless and lush production has managed to capture each composition at the ideal point in its evolution. The opening “Bright Lights” is as weightless as ever, and “Every Window Holds The Truth” sounds as if it was frozen in time at the apex of it’s swirling ascent, with Odell’s driving electric piano and Trey Steven’s thumping bass laying the sturdy foundation for skyscrapers of vocal harmonies.
But the real stand-out on Bloom And Decay is the Preston Wittenburg-penned “Animal Inside”, a consuming musical suite that clocks in at over seven dizzying, heart-wrenching minutes and is a masterclass in the wide-ranging appeal of Giant Cloud’s remarkably nimble and diverse bag of tricks. A delicate and cryptic opening seamlessly gives way to a raucous chorus of soft-loud-soft push and pull before retreating back, only to blast off once again, with each distinct passage melting into one another with a charm and bluster that makes the mystically understated lyrics even more enchanting.
Truly, Bloom And Decay’s only glaring flaw is that it may be the last we hear from one of the most talented local bands in recent memory. But the air of regret that sometimes complicates the listening experience is tempered by the incomparable promise these musicians flash even in their final act together. If this album only acts as an epitaph for Giant Cloud, it will make for a magnificent one; but it’s easy to recognize that for the individual musicians involved this may just be one of many prologues.