reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Ominous Cloud’s eponymous debut record was written, recorded, and performed by Edmonton’s Patrick Earles as his first solo project — and his most introspective work — after years of playing with bands. With an arsenal of nostalgic pop-rock hooks and all the energy of a full-band, Ominous Cloud is six songs of riff-centric jams with unique, occasionally atonal vocals that keep the sound colourful.
Though the pitch-bent vocals might give Ominous Cloud’s music its contemporary flare, it is refreshing to see a pop artist unafraid of going instrumental. Who doesn’t love an album with an intro? Especially one that sets a misty tone only to shine through it with a crunchy, kicky follow-up like Ominous Cloud does with “Intro” then “Next to Me”. One of the album’s highlights is the instrumental over-five-minute guitar-sweet “Sertraline”, which evokes the guitar work of New Order. “Can’t Find My Mind” features a particularly addictive guitar riff which ties bittersweetness to reflective lyrics.
Ominous Cloud has an affinity for going big at the end of his tracks, and while this works with the cymbal clatter of “Can’t Find My Mind” and is effective at closing down the record in the feedback squeal of “Sleep Cycle”, it occasionally pushes too hard and is jarring in the context of the pop. An example would be the end of “Next To Me”. But for the most part, Ominous Cloud is effective at carrying introspective and occasionally melancholic lyrics through jangly psych-pop tunes.
Earles — with all his big energy and memorable hooks — is a band unto himself.
Top Track: “Can’t Find My Mind”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)