Sunday, November 20, 2011

Album Review: Cloudkicker - Let Yourself Be Huge

Album Rating: B+
The ways an artist can mature and develop usually could result in a drastic change in the fanbase's view of the artist, depending on the scale of the change. Many times an artist will step completely out of the realm of what they are even remotely adequate at creating, which could result in varied reception, either praising the artist for their versatility outside their genre or bashing them, rejecting their new sound and claiming that they should have stuck with what they were best at. On Cloudkicker's latest release, Let Yourself Be Huge, the mathy mastermind Ben Sharp comes completely out of left field, but at the same time sounding just like he did on his previous album Beacons. And although Let Yourself Be Huge shows Sharp dropping almost all of the heaviness he previously displayed in his music, it is still very apparent that this definitely is, in fact, a Cloudkicker album.

A quick glance at Cloudkicker's tumblr page shows an interest in artists such as Steve Reich and Slowdive, two of which do not sound like they would stick out in Sharp's influences on Let Yourself Be Huge. Let Yourself Be Huge sounds almost as if Sharp sat down with songs from Beacons and performed them acoustically, and it somehow worked out. With the exception of "You and yours", the album is almost completely clean, with very few hints of distortion or anything metal at all, and drifting more towards a straightforward post rock sound. All of the songs are followed and preceded by a short acoustic interlude ranging between one and two minutes, that showcase Sharp's musical ability and technicality even with not much other than an acoustic guitar. In half the length of his previous album, Ben Sharp shows us just how versatile he is, jumping from progressive metal project to mellow, guitar based post-rock. The album is filled with great moments, such as the way "You and yours" slowly smolders away after a loud intro that wouldn't sound out of place on Beacons. The title track (undoubtedly the best on the album) even features a vocal appearance from Sharp, drenched in a ghostly delay and reverb. Even the David Gilmour-y acoustic ballad "It's inside me, and I'm inside it" evolves over it's five minute life span from something rather cheesy to one of the most beautiful tracks on the album. If Sharp was able to pull off what he has done here, then who knows what else he is capable of? This somewhat stripped down version of Cloudkicker displayed on Let Yourself Be Huge is what is probably the beginning of Ben Sharp, well, allowing himself to become huge.

1. Welcome Back
2. Explore, Be Curious
3. The Word Water
4. You And Yours
5. One, Many
6. It's Inside Me, And I'm Inside It
7. This Isn't
8. Let Yourself Be Huge

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