The harmless question “are you alright” seems to sum up the dumpster fire that most people are calling 2017. So it’s only fitting that Queens-based crew Cloud Tapes named the first track on their sophomore album “Are You Alright?” The alternative rock band just independently released If There Were a Reason, their second full-length album worthy of a 90’s grunge comeback. The band bring back memories of Everclear’s “Santa Monica” or Semisonic’s “Closing Time” with that specific brand of grimy rock that blanketed the radios almost three decades ago. The 14 track album incorporates an enjoyable amount of acoustic melodies, beachy guitar riffs, and virtually emotionless vocals. Don’t take it the wrong way, the throwback sound is satisfying and gives the album a personality worthy of the flashback.
If There Were a Reason creates an upbeat translation about the lack of belonging in a corroding society. The first single, “Square Peg,” hits the nail on the head with laid back lyrics like “Fitting square pegs in a circular hole/ Everyone thinks I lack self-control/ Acting like I’ve got some disease/ I’m alright, I do as I please.” Vocalist, and guitarist, John Samaras’ exasperated lyrics touch upon the struggles that come with fitting into society, a difficult feat for many millennials lately. So it’s important to remember that people will judge you no matter your gender, race, ethnicity, or social background. It’s also important to remember their opinions do not matter.
The album takes it down a notch with “Razor’s Face,” highlighting soft, acoustic melodies, similar to a lullaby. The following handful of tracks stick to the acoustic route–which slows down the momentum of the album a smidge too much–but “Beyond Innocence” has a couple of catchy guitar riffs that brighten the mood and pull the cadence out of that slump.
As a whole, If There Were a Reason feels like a search for something. While the band members play and sound like they’re certain of themselves, perhaps they’re not as certain about the world around them. There’s clusters of sadness and melancholy, dotted with plenty of societal frustration. But who isn’t just a little frustrated these days?
THE GIST: Cloud Tapes mix acoustic melodies with alternative rock radio hits to produce If There Were a Reason. While it is definitely worthy of the 90s grunge era, and even speaks to some of the frustration humans currently feel, the album falls asleep towards the middle and could use a pick-me-up in the form of more rock ‘n’ roll tracks like “Are You Alright?”