Release Date: Jul 15, 2014
Record label: Apollo
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Head here to submit your own review of this album. London duo Cloud Boat's second album Model Of You comes scarcely a year after their debut full-length Book Of Hours, but despite the minimal break between releases, the changes and augmentation in their sound are clear to anybody from the very first listen. Book Of Hours sounded like music crafted in a dark, dany, cobwebbed dungeon, with no light.
After last year’s hugely impressive debut album ‘Book Of Hours’, Cloud Boat’s Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke have quickly built on their distinctive blend of skittering garage beats, lavish guitar lines and indie-folk sensibilities akin to Local Natives or Grizzly Bear. ‘Model Of You’ takes the duo’s established sound and ramps up the production, with brawnier drums and more prominent electronic loops. The extra oomph plays to their strengths, with Clarke’s sweeping vocals holding firm on the propulsive ‘The Glow’ and stunning synthetic workout ‘Hallow’.
When they emerged with their 2013 debut, Book of Hours, British duo Cloud Boat offered up a kind of deeply ambient folktronica, pairing dark, murky synth textures with pensive vocals and quietly picked guitars. It was a haunting and sometimes difficult listen that mixed the songwriter-based crossover appeal of James Blake with the darker sonic meanderings of Jon Hopkins. Wasting no time on their follow-up, members Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke paired up with producer Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Rós, the Horrors) to record Model of You, released just one year later.
As their name would suggest, Cloud Boat offer up a dreamy style of pop that has been labelled post dubstep or, by themselves, “downcast dubstep and melancholy folk that lies somewhere between Burial and Hood”; a considerable switch of direction then, from when the North London duo first took to the stage, when both chose to ‘learn their trade’ in metal bands. Tom Clarke and Sam Ricketts have already released one album, last year’s Book Of Hours; Wanderlust and the exquisite Lions On The Beach were arguably the collection’s finest moments, but both tracks were heavily placed in the ambient, experimental electronic genre. The best tracks from follow-up Model Of You, however, start to move away from the experimental and common song structures begin to appear through the cloudy haze.
Melodrama is the shortest path between pain and its expression, but that doesn’t make it the most resolutive or the most interesting. Cloud Boat’s second album, Model of You, weighs heavy with melodrama, the kind that happens when you cut the weirdness out of early-’00s Radiohead and play around with the remaining reverb, beats, and space. The English duo have filled in the gaps they left open on their spooky, unassuming debut, Book of Hours, but they do so with the same stuff that’s been circulating through aspiring Radioheads for a decade.
Cloud Boat — Model of You (Apollo)Cloud Boat’s second album is lusher and more fully realized than the duo’s 2011 debut. It uses electronics subtly, for background washes of tone and rattling, machine-constructed beats, but the focus is on organic elements. These are, most prominently, Tom Clarke’s fluttery, soul-tipped tenor, widely spaced guitar chords, glistening, silvery keyboard notes and stirring, almost martial drum beats.The album doesn’t sound especially electronic.
Cloud Boat’s beards aren’t the only things that have grown. The newly acquired facial hair might be the first thing that leaps out of the Blue Steel press shot that accompanies the group’s second album, but what’s really disarming about it is that unwavering stare of sincerity. By now it’s a pretty common trajectory: melancholy electronic artists post a few tracks online with no image of their faces, eventually follow these up with a release that shows them partially obscured by fog, shrubbery or some other form of distortion, before dramatically “stepping out of the shadows” to mark a turning point in their maturity as artists.
Suddenly, it seems as if Cloud Boat are going against type. During their formative years, their rate of output - and, I dare say, their work ethic - seemed to fit fairly neatly with the dreamy texture and lackadaisical pace of their music. They made a real impression on me when I saw them open for James Blake in Manchester, three or so years ago; I heard so little of them afterwards, though, that last year’s debut full-length, Book of Hours, passed me by, initially - I’d eventually discover it to be a decent stab at bringing together electronic pop and elements of bass music.