Cloakroom – Further Out
Hey Cloakroom! Seattle called, they want their sound back.
“What the hell is a cloakroom” you ask? Take a seat, and I will tell you the story of the first band in twenty years to think grunge needs a comeback. Spoiler alert, there is no story – Further Out is Cloakroom’s first album.
Crunchy guitars and heart pounding drums accompanied by tortured vocals – oh hell yes, this is a “grunge” throwback alright. At least, this is the impression given off by the opening track “Paperweight” – an eargasm that can only be described as being melodically struck by a hammer over and over again. The blunt force trauma leaves you jaded yet elated, eagerly anticipating the next assault of brutal melody. It comes in the form of “Outta Spite” which… sounds almost identical to “Paperweight”. Okay, I will let that one slide. Besides, the next track will provide some variety of sorts, right? On the contrary, “Moon Funeral” follows the progression of “Outta Spite” so well that I failed to realize it was a new track until the two minute mark.
Here in lies the problem: This album is too formulaic. Heavy drums, matching guitar, whiny vocals, lather, rinse, repeat. Naysayers are bound to call foul, citing Cloakroom as an ambition too fresh for experimentation, but I call shenanigans. Cloakroom’s foil comes in the form of playing it safe, deviating little from the sound already established by their Infinity EP (which, as an aside, was pure torture to listen to – a five song EP should not be half an hour long). And no, one acoustic song and an instrumental do not count as variety. I am not exaggerating when I say that each song mirrors the previous, and believe me when I say I wish my experience had been more positive. I may lose some credibility for my confession, but I am a sucker for the Seattle sound: TAD, Mudhoney, L7, The Melivns – the list goes on. I was ecstatic to hear the opening of “paperweight.” I could feel each snare, each drop d chord, each pluck of the bass transporting me to the land of unkempt hair, Seahawks, middle class intellectuals and everlasting rain. But the album’s laborious runtime trudged on, and something that started as a monotonous nuisance became a full-fledged struggle against the desire to sleep off boredom.
Cloakroom, I do not hate you. Your core sound intrigues me – honestly, it does. I will even give you a participation ribbon in the form of this complement: the last track of your album kicks ass. As a giant middle finger to the traditional conventions of rock music, you play the outro drums of “Deep Sea Station” in reverse. Your ambitions have yielded a sensation that has – until now – never graced my ears with its brilliance. Sufficient to say, I am appreciative for what you have given me. Sadly, this is not a saving grace, but a mere light at the end of the tunnel. And what a glorious light it is – cause this tunnel was fucking tedious.
For those of you who still think grunge is relevant, by all means blast this album in your room at full volume – just make sure it’s loud enough to disturb your neighbors. Wear your flannel and ripped jeans with pride as you rock back and forth on your bed, repeating to yourself that it’s still ’92 – you can even throw in a few Courtney-killed-Kurt conspiracies if it makes you feel any better. As for the rest of us, Further Out should be nothing more than a curiosity that we will eventually get to on Spotify – no seriously, we will. Right around the same time we watch Tree of Life and read The Poisonwood Bible.
– Luke Amick