Australians have always seemed to run a strange horse in the race of the hipster-driven aughts. Though arguably having a heavy hand in shaping and defining modern indie pop with acts like Architecture in Helsinki, most Aussie bands since then – whether by systematic design or their own disinterest and ineptitude – have failed to make any significant splash on our end of the Earth. Even local legend Nick Cave – boasting a revolving-door band of Bad Seeds that hail from so many different countries that Australia is often nothing more than their humble pied-à-terre – has stylistically treated his own critical successes in the past decade with a certain amount of cool indifference. Granted, it’s damn near impossible for the Western World to fully grasp whatever subtle and varied musical innovations the continent down under may have produced; but by the time the most Aussie artists reach our shores (with few exceptions) they easily get lost among a crowded plane of American and British musicians at the precipice of every new indie movement.
And while that could easily end up being the fate of psychedelic chamber pop band Cloud Control, this young Australian foursome drums up enough complex contradiction and dichotomy on their Ivy League debut (re-released for American consumption on Turnout Records) to make that fatalistic presage sound as laughable as it is surely incorrect. From their entry in 2008, they’ve explored the boundaries of a sound that’s at times somewhat antiquated in the fast-paced stylistic world of indie rock and at other times flat-out dated. Yet while a propensity for eschewing the radiating neediness associated with the Western drive to constantly sound fresh, reinvented and groundbreaking was Cloud Control’s unassuming promise on the Death Cloud EP, it is the defining characteristic and singular strength of Bliss Release.
On nearly every track here the band methodically utilizes existing conventions of indie pop’s many contrivances while ignoring the ubiquitous fear of being a twee cliche; and with a vast yet barefaced presentation, highlights like the Pacific Ocean Blue reflection “Gold Canary” and the psychedelic cave dance “Meditation Song #2” allow the listener to connect with what are undeniably well-written and fully enjoyable pop songs. The band effectively draws a line in the sand between themselves and the myriad Western pop acts on straightforward rocker “The Rolling Stones”, wherein singers Alister Wright and Heidi Lenffer perpetually harmonize their youthful green voices and posture kaleidoscope keyboards to deep echoed guitars through a series minimalist rhythms courtesy of bassist Jeremy Kelshaw and drummer Ulrich Lenffer without ever allowing themselves to get bogged down in the usual trappings of cutesy boy-girl pop.
While the far-too-easy and patently-incorrect superficial references to Aussie rock n’ roll ancestry are bound to fly loosely with this record, if Cloud Control has any true connection to legends like the Go-Betweens it’s in that they have a deft ability to fly light years ahead of their contemporaries in terms of songwriting prowess while doing so with a deceptively archaic type of creative canvas. Though little fanfare outside their home country has surrounded the album since its original release over a year and a half ago, hopefully its reintroduction in America will garner this talented band some much-deserved recognition because, even at their least focused, Cloud Control pour more infectious quality into each song on Bliss Release than most artists of their ilk can muster in an entire album.