Majical Cloudz cuts deep with melancholy

“Are You Alone?” aims not for the ears, but for the heart.

Brooks Ginnan, Writer

Your chest moves up and down slowly, every breath a knife to the lungs. The lump in your throat will not go away as your pillow absorbs each and every droplet falling from your eyes. These moments can be messy and traumatic, but they are ones that draw us together in ways far deeper than blissful glee, and are ones that comprise the essence of “Are You Alone?,” the latest from Canadian minimalist-duo Majical Cloudz.

Brutally Powerful

Perhaps even more so than the group’s stunning debut, “Impersonator,” “Are You Alone?” is blunt and straight to the point. Each song is based on a very particular scene in vocalist Devon Welsh’s life, and every word bears a heavy burden, emphasized by somber instrumentals that are incredibly sparse, yet brutally powerful.

Take “Game Show” for example. The song starts off with delicately layered patches of ambience, and as Welsh’s voice triumphs on, the background crescendos from a near-barren terrain into a crushing wave of thick bass. While the vocals never really change from a bleak demeanor — not to be confused with a dull monotone — the track, as with much of the album, has the ability to kick one’s legs out from underneath them.

An Otherworldly Understanding

Unlike “Impersonator,” which was filled with tracks that for the most part feature some form of steady beat or linear structure, the instrumentals of “Are You Alone?” take on much more of a freeform, droning atmosphere. While some of the tracks do crescendo to grand heights as previously mentioned, others take the route of building up sonic landscapes gradually without bothering to soar, and they ultimately do not have to in order to leave a mark. These decisions show a strong cohesion between Welsh and his sole bandmate, Matthew Otto. Together, they possess an otherworldly understanding that not all songs need hooks and danceable rhythms to entice listeners.

Instead, it is the profoundly emotional storytelling that places Majical Cloudz in a league of its own. At this point, it is a jump to claim that this album is the group’s magnum opus. Yet, it is a rare work of beauty and authenticity – one that aims not for the listener’s ears or head, but straight for the heart.

After Listening

Chances are, if you do not feel the same way after a single listen to nearly any of the tracks on “Are You Alone?,” you may need an x-ray as soon as possible – something may very well be missing deep down inside of you.

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