Does this review even need to be written? So much has been said already about Cloud's Comfort Songs that it would probably suffice simply to give an overview of reviewers' comments, such as Pitchfork's view of it as 'astoundingly accomplished', Tom Ravenscroft's 'a great record', the 8/10 awarded to it by Drowned in Sound or the 10/10 from Contact Music, all of which simply scratch the surface of the praise heaped on what is unquestionably one of 2013's finest achievements.
But to do so would just be lazy and, although I'm quite prone to laziness on occasions, it wouldn't do here and I feel the need, albeit belatedly, to add something myself. On approaching Comfort Songs, I had the same feeling I got when listening for the first time to The Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin. Not that there are that many stylistic similarities, but these are both releases that hit the listener in places you didn't know were even part of you. They possess a transcendent appeal. You're never sure what's going to come along next, are never able with any absolute security to anticipate the next chord change or where the song's structure will take you. An album that aspires to greatness must have four or five such moments: here, Cloud lays them across all eleven tracks.
I played the single 'Mother Sea' in my August Dandelion Show, a preview that gave us fair notice of what to expect, and yet still it only scratched the surface of this amazing collection, containing only barely a hint, for example, of the whimsical beauty of 'Wish Little Fish' or the epic magnificence of 'Desperation Club'. At the moment I think 'Authorless Novel' is my favourite track on the album, a meandering, bewitching piece of music that can take you anywhere without you ever feeling you know it completely. Hear it in my September show on Dandelion Radio. Audio Antihero, who've already brought us so many great things in the past and during this year, have surpassed even their own high standards with this release.
So often it's the case that a new album captivates me for a few weeks or perhaps at best months before I move on to something else, such is the sheer wealth of great music around. But this is one that I know I'll be going back to again and again for the rest of my life. When a certain mood strikes me, and where formerly I reached for The Soft Bulletin or Grandaddy's The Sophtware Slump now I'll be making my first move in the direction of Comfort Songs.
Get it here.
Free download (but don't stop here): Mother Sea