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Monto Water Rats, London 15 October 2007

The Cloud Room are the kind of band who bury their influences deep in their psyche. Their feverish blend of alt spiky pop is frequently topped by sweeping choruses that occasionally reveal their hidden sources. But this is a band brimming with creative energy and enough eloquent songs to fashion their own identity.

And while The New York outfit have obviously found their contemporary niche as evidenced by the enthusiastic audience reaction at the conclusion of their graveyard shift slot at the Monto Water Rats, they also bring some subtly disguised retro touches via the neat keyboard embellishments of Steve Milton and more obviously the vocal swoops of vocalist J.

Over the course of whirlwind set they also offered a few introspective Radiohead moments but their songs are vibrant, dynamic and open ended enough to soar into the kind of passionate, anthemic melodies that grace many of Arcade Fire's better moments. Even the Lou Reed style intro to the slow burning gem 'We Sleep In The Ocean' was quickly subsumed by vocalist J's restless vocal swoops that derive passion and angst in equal measure in little more than a few vocal phrases.

In fact many of the songs spring to life from humble beginnings. Thus on the very catchy 'Blackout' the band suddenly slipped through the gears and employed the deftest stop time punctuation before launching into the main verse. Vocalist J crouched down at the front of the stage to enunciate the chorus in staccato fashion. Similarly on the infectious single 'Hey Now Now' the band quickly built up a turbo charged wall of sound full of punky pop spirit, with vocalist J extending his arms preacher style as it to embrace a multitude. On the equally impressive funky keyboard driven 'The Hunger', there were even shades of Duran Duran in the booming chorus.

And it is with the sudden mood changes, the little energetic rushes and layered emotions that that the songs remain memorable and become something more than more than a fleeting melody.

For the most part the band remained fairly static letting J enjoy his Bowie moments complete with his black Gibson as a prop.

Playing as part of a four band bill always meant that this set was going to be short and sweet, and yet The Cloud Room still managed to unveil a brace of new songs, presumably from their forthcoming EP 'Please Don't Almost Kill Me' that suggest they are on a creative roll and surely destined to play to bigger if not more enthusiastic crowds than this.

Review by Pete Feenstra

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