The most frequently quoted fact from Cloakroom’s bio is that they’re a trio of factory workers from Indiana. It is a nice bit of backstory that makes sense in hindsight upon hearing their minimally arranged, moderately morose and maximally loud debut LP Further Out—so long as they’re not framed as the sort of blue-collar Hoosier hero that might inspire a John Mellencamp/Bruce Springsteen collaboration. In 2015, factory work seems more like a vocation for people who just somehow ended up with that job, because that’s what you do, I guess. But it’s also a potentially attractive situation where the repetition and physical labor can be meditative, a good way to shut off one’s mind, especially when it tries to parse how you ended up as a factory worker in 2015.
That and Cloakroom know from heavy machinery; the operative terms for Further Out are “bulldoze,” “steamroll.” Here’s a picture of Cloakroom—Brian Busch is on the left and the drums on Further Out sure sound like they’re being hit by a guy who has 100-litre barrels for arms. Meanwhile, Doyle Martin valiantly keeps up with all the might his lanky, mortal frame can bear, as Further Out comes off like the only indie rock album released in 2015 actively gunning for its own tablature book. Opener “Paperweight” sums up Martin’s sedentary, sarcastic point of view (“you exist in material states/ one part paper, one part weight/ you could not decide what force is holding you down today”) and empties his arsenal of bullying power chords, fluid, clean arpeggios, melodic fills and narcotized acoustic strums.
All of the aforementioned provide for a wealth of hooks throughout Further Out, even if it’s an album for the gearheads who’d rather spend time and money assessing amplifier nuance than effects pedals. Proudly analog from the recording to the vinyl pressing, Further Out utilizes a mere handful of tones because Martin took like two years to get these settings just right: his favorite is a super-saturated buzz that somehow sounds both impenetrable and like it could dissolve on contact. It’s a shame someone else beat Cloakroom to Let’s Cry and Do Pushups at the Same Time as an album title, as Further Out is equal parts thick muscle and lactic acid.
The result is a record heavy enough to justify a 2xLP pressing even with a relatively brief 45 minute runtime. It’s probably best for the vinyl considering the contents: “Paperweight” inherits the Secret Machines’ ambitions to recreate Texas-sized arena boogie that’s part Slacker, part Dazed and Confused, “Lossed Over” and “Moon Funeral” are the basis for the pop record to which Jesu refused to commit, while “Outta Spite” and “Starchild Skull” hulk boxes upon boxes of CDs from the time when indie rock went alt and cast a lot of truly great bands as one-hit wonders stashed in the Buzz Bin. Most specifically, Hum—Further Out was recorded in Matt Talbott’s studio and his former band would be a reference point even if had no direct involvement. Hum have become a kind of shorthand for contemporaries like Cloakroom who draw from but are not limited to shoegaze, slowcore, alt-rock, emo, basically all forms of music that favor distorted guitars and never really have their “moment” in indie rock post-1995.
But for that reason, they also never really go out of style. Further Out does successfully sound genreless despite being referential of a half dozen genres at once and is presented as a continuous listening experience. Though Cloakroom might be selling themselves short in the interest of cohesion—”Mesmer” and “Sylph” are meant as instrumental interludes, but their skittering rhythms and timbral beauty are such intriguing divergences from the consistent piledriving that they feel like unkept promises; one wishes they could’ve been extended into vocal tracks. But in light of the effort and exertion required of Further Out’s eight other songs, perhaps that was too much of an undertaking for the time being.
All of the deliberate aggression in Cloakroom’s music is a none-too-subtle defense mechanism for the implacable depression at its core. Martin’s yawning moan is a dead ringer for that of Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan, somehow managing to emerge clean and clear from the murk despite him never raising his voice. But unlike Bazan, Martin’s pen is caked with bong resin rather than poison. Cashed bowls and empty cans litter Further Out, having served as coping mechanisms rather than means of escape. All of these low-level narcotics have a way of muddling situations as Martin attempts to explain his disappointment in people who continue to fail him. At any given point, it’s unclear whether he’s addressing a girlfriend, a friend, a coworker, a parent, the mailman, whoever.
Most likely, it’s himself, but his lethargic delivery becomes a part of the hook: on “Asymmetrical”, Martin describes suburban, drunken intransigence as a night out where he, “Took a long drive/ Got a few dents/ Told a couple jokes at your expense”; the major-key melody appears to be mocking the target, as Martin’s words drip with both dejection and derision, a perfect match of content and delivery.
Cloakroom once described themselves as “stoner emo” as a joke and they’ll probably spend the rest of their career getting shit for it. It’s clearly meant as a joke, the punchline being the obvious incompatibility of its two parts. The latter is defined by anxious rhythms, a tenuous connection to straight edge, brazen, high-register melodies and a desperate desire for human connection amidst a litany of misunderstanding and communication failures. Meanwhile, a band named Sleep made one of stoner rock’s formative documents, which just so happens to be called Dopesmoker and sounds exactly like what you think it does. To the extent that their turbid, somewhat timid debut EP Infinity couldn’t achieve, Further Out presents those genres existing as a continuum rather than in conflict: Cloakroom are driven by a distinct Midwestern despair and disillusion, they just don’t make music that reflects it. Instead, they hit a very specific catharsis wrung from exhaustion; at a certain point, you’ve earned your place on the couch after a hard day at the factory, the office, or just enduring a line at the grocery store, and you figure you may as well just spark up and crank up the amps.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1sXnqHN