Audio Antihero Records’ Cloud (or Tyler Taormina to his friends and family) makes a welcome return with ‘Plays with Fire’ – a 32-minute album drenched in hope and nostalgia. A loud burst of feedback signals the start of the opener ‘Happer’s Laugh’; a song full of acoustic strums and white noise effects that evolves into a Spiritualized-esque piece full of introspection. Following this is ‘Disenchanted’, which finds Cloud offering a list of confessions over floating guitars: ‘To my mum, would you love me if I stole from my workplace every night?’ There’s also an air of sadness when he asks ‘Could we share a dog? No it’s just me and the dog. Now it’s just the dog and me.’
‘Two Hands Bound’ has a fuller sound and comes across as a captivating combination of the Postal Service’s emotional pop and Haim’s melodic hooks. With its calypso feel, it has a thumping bass line, unexpected bursts of guitar and even a sing-along chorus. The tone is then taken down with ‘Oh, So Juvenile; a piano piece full of honesty as Cloud examines the way he lives his life and admits to moments of youthful naivety. The big beats, harmonised vocals and lullaby elements in ‘Heartfluttered’ will make you smile, especially as the lyrics list some harsh truths: ‘Yes, you are fucked up’.
As the album reaches its final throes, there’s yet another turn in direction with the Baths-meets-The Polyphonic Spree tone of ‘Wildfire’. This contrasts with the grand piano sound of ‘Comet Happer’ – a song that finds Cloud looking for hope in the darkness. As the piano falters to a climax, the record finishes with the choral harmonies of ‘Mary Goes Mad Again’ and this will leave you breathless. ‘Plays with Fire’ is an all-encompassing record that will appeal to fans of Yo La Tengo, Leonard Cohen and Feist and light up your life.