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Cloudmachine – Back On Land
16 april, 2009

Cloudmachine - Back on Land

Cloudmachine may not be the best known band hailing from the Netherlands but they certainly are one of most underrated Dutch bands. On their previous albums they were able to build on impressive songwriting, Ruud Houweling’s distinctive vocal sound and a very professional performance of the emotionally layered songs.

Their breakthrough happened in 2006 with the excellent album “Hum of Life” and last year they released the follow up “Back On Land”. Once again, the album is filled with slightly melancholical, well-written and inspiring songs building on a sound that holds the middle between indie pop and alternative rock. Some people compare Cloudmachine to Novastar or Johan, and I’ve even read references to Radiohead. And while I have to admit that there are similarities in the general sound I don’t feel much like comparing Cloudmachine to any of these bands. The distinctive vocal sound and the personality of the music puts it in its own category for me. Not that the other bands aren’t as good, I just think there are definitely subtle difference in style and sound between all these bands.

But let me get back to the album. “Back On Land”, released in 2009, starts out strong with Things Are Going To Change and doesn’t let go of that high quality anywhere on the album. All the songs have a characteristic sound and are passionately delivered. Themes of life, love, hope, despair, well, the things we all know and relate to, are present in the songs and are described in colorful yet accessible lyrics. The music is inspiring, challenging even but it doesn’t push you off the edge. Sometimes bands put so much effort in creating complex songs that in the end the essence of the music is lacking. Cloudmachine doesn’t forget that at the end of the day they are still making pop songs, which you can hear in the pleasant Safe Haven and the excellent indie pop gem Fading Picture which ends in a supreme finale.

Sadly I didn’t discover this album until early 2010, otherwise it would have no doubt made the top25 albums of 2009. It’s an album that holds excellent music, interesting lyrics, contains emotional depth and sticks to the essence of pop/rock music. It’s smooth, it’s intriguing and most of all the music is simply beautiful. It strikes a chord. Key tracks of the album are Pirouettes On New Legs (somewhat filmesque, but very pretty), Fading Picture (great pop song with a very impressive anthemic build up and epic finale), Spit Me Out (a little more melancholic, sentimental even, but oh so beautiful) and album closer Sanctuary (a musical journey that holds your attention from the first note to the last).

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