The Cloud I’m Under – There’s More To Life Than Indie Rock N Roll EP

The Cloud I'm Under - There's More To Life Than Indie Rock N Roll

Brevity may not be of paramount concern when it comes to the band name or album title, but the yet to be identified NYC musician and producer behind The Cloud I’m Under knows how to churn out glossy electro-pop in a decidedly economical fashion.  His latest free download – a five song collection of saturnine dance music that recalls both the synth textures of Passion Pit (sans passion) and the meandering grooves of LCD Soundsystem (without the crisp studio engineering) – is over and out in less than 15 minutes.

If the EP’s verbose handle is to be believed, there is indeed more to life than spending one’s day listening to Sup Pop compilations and interpreting the elitist views of music critics who work for Pitchfork Media (the album cover art is sardonic yet highly apropos).  You’d like to think all this pontificating had some deeper meaning attached to it, but apparently, the only thing more to life than indie rock and roll is mopey techno that sounds like the soundtrack to a rave after the bender has ceased and the high has begun to wane.

This is not to suggest that the music on More to Life isn’t an enjoyable affair; in fact, it’s a surprisingly easy listen.  The bigger issue though, is that the cloud man seems a bit too content to wallow in the same mid-tempo grooves for the EP’s entire running time.  Opening track “Saturdays Are Better Without You” has things moving around 114 BPM, and the tempo gradually slackens over the remaining four tunes.  Not ashamed to use handclaps at will, the disc is also heavy on burbling sawtooth synth waves, druggy falsetto vocals, and melodies that sound like the union of early Nintendo games and Vince Clarke-era Depeche Mode.

With the aforementioned leadoff track comes one of the few instances where the vocals are actually decipherable: “We don’t care about your friends / we don’t care if you’re alone.”  Despite the defiant attitude projected by the lyrics, the song is all about a placid sense of danceability.  The drums alternate between a four to the floor groove and something that resembles more of a break beat as several benign synth textures float by.  “Caught You in a Lie” features chirpy keyboard work, an amusing disco bass line, and a drum beat that New Order could’ve used on a “Blue Monday” remix.  Set at practically the same tempo as “Lie,” “Memories of Our Youth” seems to function best as an epilogue with even woozier vocal fragments and teardrop sound effects.  Though also danceable, it’s a far cry from the fervent energy of electronic gurus like Animal Collective or Dan Deacon.  Continuously, the Cloud I’m Under draws more obvious parallels with the dark ambience of Moby or Röyksopp than any other artist in the genre.

“Kim & Thurston Don’t Fight Like This” is notable simply for its punch-line reference to one of indie rock’s longest running power couples.  The song doesn’t even flirt with the ear drum-bleeding chaos of Sonic Youth, nor does it express any of the irony implied by its title.  Complete in less than two and a half minutes, the track sounds uncomfortably urgent and paranoid.  Final track “Needless Help” never really gets off the ground – the vocals are more unstable than ever before – but it does feature some artillery-like percussion that, given the mellow vibes, seems like a bold statement.

As a free download, Indie Rock N Roll does not necessarily translate into wasted megabytes on your hard drive.  Nonetheless, you might also feel that you’re getting exactly what you paid for.