Plays With Fire
Long Islands’ Cloud follow up their last LP with another nine songs of dreamy psychedelic pop with elements of the outer edges of folk and if there was an album that encapsulates hazy days and even hazier nights then it has to be this one.
Plays With Fire commences with the mellow Happers Laugh, and as opening tracks go this is a gentle reintroduction to the world of Cloud. An acoustic guitar is strummed playfully while a distorted soundscape takes shelter in the background but is never in any danger of taking centre stage and this whole opening segment opens things off beautifully and allows the next track, Disenchanted to come in with a more joyful approach whilst still retaining that blissful and chilled out vibe, with some summery guitar flourishes adding to the whole sunshine feel and this definitely sets the tone for the album.
Even from the offset, this is a record that combines assured pop influences with a wonderfully hazy sheen and encapsulates feelings of happiness and sheer reflection, sometimes taking you by surprise but at other times there is a comforting knowingness with the warmth of the music.
The pop-ier element of this record really comes to the foremost effectively on the tracks Two Hands Bound and Wildfire while the likes of Me, Her & Lavender and the aptly named Heartfluttered offer a more reflective sound, wistful in their nature and songs that drift along in a passionate fashion. The highlights on Playing Fire are plentiful and this is certainly an album that is most effective when played in its entirety but special mention must go to the laid back, nostalgic and uplifting Oh, So Juvenile and the poppy, anthemic and most of all wonderful sound of Wildfire, both songs that sum up the nature of the music of Cloud the most.
As the album ends with the folky Comet Happer and the sublime Mary Goes Mad Again, you are in awe of this records effect and the emotions it brings.
Fans of Mazzy Star, Yo La Tengo and Panda Bear in particular will love the mixture of styles and the textures at which they are delivered which is something that Cloud excel at and simply put, Plays With Fire is an album that will enchant and enthral in equal measure. This is perfect music for those hazy summer days, evenings and nights as the music here captures the mound of all three timescales perfectly.
Plays With Fire was released March 9th by Audio Antihero Records and is available on vinyl and download.
Words: Gavin Brown