There’s a gallery-ready art rock quality to Cloud Cult. This is, after all, a rock band with a cellist. But rather than pin themselves to the wall with esoteric riffs, the Minneapolis ensemble places themselves squarely at the center of attention with hip, blippy beats and funky, staccato rhythms.
“Chain Reaction” starts The Meaning of 8 with smoke-and-mirror instrumentals, spare beat-boxing that meanders into melodic chords and electronic glitches. It’s an expansive sound, but not so much that it crowds out ensuing melancholy harmonies, misty moments of quavering voices entreating “You have eyes like mine / Are we strangers or am you are I.” There’s an earnestness here that could be cloying if it was persistent. But Cloud Cult is nothing if not changeable and so the next track, “Please Remain Calm,” begins with straightforward kick-drum-and-snare rock, the backbeat to distorted electric guitar chords that develop into disco funk interludes made up of keyboards mimicking a Theremin. This for a song that starts off, “His Sunday best includes the helmet of an astronaut.”
The Meaning of 8 is mysterious and magnificent, introspective and inventive. More than just art rock, it’s art. (Jason Wiener)
Cloud Cult plays The Badlander Wednesday, April 25, at 10 PM. $10.