Imagine that you’re laying on the bank of a running river, with sounds of nature echoing in the background. Then suddenly, a heavenly piano sweeps in, and a soothing voice whispers, “I’ll be alright if you’ll be alright.” It’s a moment so sublime that you can’t help but feel at ease, and it’s the kind at which Clouds Collide‘s new album, All Things Shining, proves particularly adept. Even in its heavier moments—and yes, there are plenty—it’s a gorgeous listen that will transport you to a state of total serenity.
Things have changed a bit since the last Clouds Collide full-length. Until the Wind Stops Blowing, released in 2013, focused on the season of winter—a time of coldness, despair and loss. In mastermind Chris Pandolfo’s case, it was the loss of his mother, whose memory inspired the album and the appropriately bleak tone within. An underlying sense of devastation and turmoil lingered throughout, and to listen was to be swept up in a storm of emotions.
With All Things Shining, Pandolfo sticks with the seasonal theme, but pulls us out of the darkness and leads us forth into spring. And you’ll feel the changes almost immediately. The production is immaculate, the common symbols of springtime—rebirth, growth, love—shine through effervescently, and the prevailing tone is one of lightness and optimism.
The album’s occasional excursions into the black will inevitably prompt comparisons to Deafheaven, but you have to wonder how fair these might be. Where Roads to Judah or Sunbather alternate between chaos and tranquility in clearly defined segments, All Things Shining casts the two extremes onto an even-flowing plane and lets each augment the other at once. On “Hope & Bliss,” for example, Pandolfo dots his otherwise pristine composition with the occasional howl or blast beat to deepen the sound. It’s not a complete shift, but rather another way to grab the listener within the same frame of reference. In that sense, it’s easier to think of Alcest, or even Anathema, as spiritual siblings here.
The centerpiece, “Blossom,” is another highlight. Throughout its eight-and-a-half minutes, it maintains a haunting sense of urgency, building layers up, then tearing them down; whispering in your ear about a “final spring,” then pummeling you with a demand to “send me the sun.” It’s the kind of track that reveals new intricacies each time through, and once the ride’s over, it’s hard not to want to go back and listen again.
Over All Things Shining‘s hour-or-so run time, the album takes listeners through a full range of emotions—joy, uncertainty, calmness, you name it. But as the first few notes of “Only You” ring out, reprising the otherworldly beauty of opener “Turquoise Rose,” you can only marvel at the wondrous, uplifting journey you’ve just experienced. Wake up, pop this thing on, and greet the new day.
Keep it heavy,