Vancouver art collective Crack Cloud are a true force; after stellar side projects, in NOV3L and Military Genius, the group release their new full-length Pain Olympics amidst the sweltering summer heat. Crack Cloud’s cast has revolved, but it seems they’ve reached a live setup they’re comfortable with; indeed, the fact that they describe themselves as an art collective rather than a band is testament to the community spirit that follows them around.
Crack Cloud formed initially as a means of channelling the energy that would at one point be consumed by addiction into something less destructive – but to narrow down this new record to the group’s initial formation would be reductive. Indeed, Crack Cloud have been clean for years now, and with the passing time, what is evident is their total dedication to creating music that is totally novel and bold.
The group’s success to date has been forged in their intense live shows, with their self-titled mini album from 2018 not quite landing the punches the group are capable of. Indeed, in a live setting, Crack Cloud line up in battle formation; seven in a line, as many as five guitars at one point and ravaging call-and-response vocals from the whole group; a real powerhouse. On Pain Olympics, though, they’ve managed to capture this feral energy, which is really no mean feat.
Pain Olympics is bursting at the seams; the band have a unique, vibrant energy, and are constantly battling to keep it in some kind of a structure. Lead single ‘Ouster Stew’ is a two-minute adrenaline shot that mangles a bubblegum organ sound with a dance-punk verve, before a Zach Choy drum solo erupts atop the skewed groove. Pure energy. Choy’s drums act as a fantastic propulsive engine for the whole record, the horn-laden brood of ‘Bastard Basket’ and on the paranoid urbane nugget ‘Favour Your Fortune’, Choy’s heavy playing give the band a real scorched-earth quality.
Throughout, Crack Cloud delight. Pain Olympics is an incendiary snapshot of a real musical force; from the rumbling balladry of ‘Something’s Gotta Give’, to the hurtling digital brutalism of ‘Tunnel Vision’, this is an unearthly garden of delights. With the mouth-watering prospect of a Crack Cloud live show off the cards for the time being, Pain Olympics plugs the void emphatically.