Mark & The Clouds - Cumulus

by Mark Steele Rating:8 Release Date:2017-03-10

Following on from their saturated 2014 debut Blue Skies Opening, London-based Mark & The Clouds return with follow-up 12-track (15-Tracks on CD/DL) stratospheric lysergic opus, Cumulus. The quintet led by lead vocalist/Guitarist Marco Magnani, throw many influences into their songs which they seem able to cram in. Whilst there is a host of classic artists to extract ideas from, it provides the listener a mix of nostalgia and new found love moments.

From a 6/8 gentle guitar led intro, these changes gear into pedalling with rhythmic gusto 'On Her Bike'. Which weaves in and out with well-layered vocal harmonies, driving bass and guitars charging ahead. The addition of synth adds a further layer and is accompanied by a blues-rock meets The Byrds random-raga guitar solo. The reverbed acoustic guitar rhythms, distant horns and strings included on 'Road, Mud & Cold' give the sense of a road journey without a care in the world. On a more overcast tip see also the lush country orchestration on 'I'm Stopping Here'. A Slade grit rubs you on 'Hit By Lightning', that also adds a touch of Hawkwind, carries confidence in its vocal and harmonic simplicity, including a zippy fuzz solo.

Harking back to artists such as The Hollies and JethroTull, 'Another Grey Morning' is a strong swinging Psych-folk effort. This may go down in festivals quite nicely, nimble acoustic guitar work, and accordions abound. Booming bass, with a catchy minor-blues garage rock groove obliged by the guitar and drums. 'You're So Cold' has you hearing several artists here and there which is quite a rewarding feat if you can identify them. Potently connected is the hook clad rocker 'Sheltered By The Wall Of Sound'.

The Kinks meets T-Rex stomper 'Baby, You're Just A Liar' powers along cheerily, again a bit of The Hollies appears on 'The Endless Road', full of chorus soaked jangly guitar indulgence. Flowery psych-rock daydream tripper 'The Lady Was A Freak', is colourful and uplifting. Late era The Beatles meets Bread can be heard via 'Take My Sky', a neatly crafted pop arrangement.

The band generally sweep between bright sunshine moments and melancholic moods quite easily, without compromising quality. 'Let Me Fade Away' and 'Sweet And Wild' demonstrates this contrast quite well. Reverse guitar lines alongside slide guitar runs keep the guitar layers cemented to follow the bass and drums. The last track 'Evil Fairies' takes us out over the skies, layered strings, extra instruments that gradually builds towards the end and finishes in a radiant splendour.

Cumulus continues that vintage Psych-Pop vibe initiated on their debut. The arrangments are focused and show artists not afraid to search out new horizons whilst comfortably able to steer back to maintain a familiar flight path.

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