Recorded output can only serve as a taster for one of the greatest live bands in the world today
Rhys Delany
14:29 16th September 2022

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Crack Cloud are a multimedia collective based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The size of the group fluctuates, with Zach Choy being the only consistent member since the group began as his solo project. Most of the group consist of people who met through addiction recovery programs both as participants and support workers — and so much of their work focusses on addiction, mental illness and society. The opening track, ‘Danny’s Message’, is a recording of Choy’s father (who passed away at the age of 29) and he talks about the importance of self-fulfilment, finding an outlet to express and be yourself. This is a sentiment which is true of every artform, but certainly underpins the ethos of Crack Cloud.

Much like their 2020 debut album, Pain Olympics, the music has that same stop-start feel with a speak-sing vocal. While these styles of indie rock music can and are starting to feel excessive and sometimes outright irritating, the diversity of Crack Cloud keeps the music fresh and enjoyable. Given that the group was formulated around Zach Choy — and his voice is the most prominent in Crack Cloud’s music — he feels like an anchor for those around him. This is not to say the other musicians are some kind of fodder, they too add their own personality and influence. The angular guitar work on ‘Virtuous Industry’ and ‘Crackin’ Up’ would not have that same Television-esque wonder if it wasn’t for how Choy’s vocal occasionally mirrors a Tom Verlaine style. Likewise, the saxophone and piano on songs such as, ‘Please Yourself’ and ‘Tough Baby’ remind me of plastic soul era Bowie and funky basslines reminisce Talking Heads.

'Tough Baby' is a song that should top every best of list that comes at the end of the year. While I mentioned before how Zach Choy’s vocal leads the album, it is the voice of Eve Adams that really pricked up my ears. Something about her voice elevates the innocence of this song along with the dreamy and surrealist imagery. The song then mutates into a catatonic frenzy, and it is this juxtaposition of style that Crack Cloud do so well. Of the title Choy says: "Our body of work has been informed by some of the darker chapters in our lives; we’ve taken a moment to examine beyond that in Tough Baby. The potency of the imagination, the magic and mystery of our world and its history from an adolescent gaze. We wanted to fall in love with our craft again by recalling the mysticism of our youth."

While this album is good, I cannot quite say its perfect. I saw Crack Cloud live last September and the sheer power, aggression and musicality is just something you cannot recreate in a recorded setting. They are without doubt one of the greatest live bands in the world today and their recorded output can only serve as a taster of what to expect. But if you can and I’m sure you will: go and see Crack Cloud perform their music in person. You will experience the full catharsis the band are aiming to produce with their music.

Tough Baby is out now.

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Photo: Press