Long Island’s Cloud (aka Tyler Taormina and friends) debuted for Audio Antihero in 2013 with the lauded Comfort Songs LP. Taormina returns in 2018 with his new album Plays With Fire; nine songs and 32 minutes of quiet optimism and greying nostalgia, mixing the wide-eyed naïveté of Jonathan Richman with the cold-weather pop of Yo La Tengo and the fractured soundscapes of Galaxie 500.
‘Wildfire’ is the free lead single from the upcoming new album. Decidedly homemade, with processed beats and loops as well as guitar from Infinity Girl’s Nolan Eley. It’s one of the more immediately accessible moments from the new album, chanted, frantic and vibrant, recalling hints of Panda Bear Electronics, Animal Collective Psychedelia, Mazzy Star fog and Cocteau Twins atmospherics.
In “Wildfire” Taormina asserts that “every light’s racing towards the ends of everything,” but there’s hope in the darkness. A recurring theme of the new record is the passing of time. 2013’s Comfort Songs was an autumn-toned guitar record that saw Taormina coping with love and loss in his early twenties, while 2015’s dreampop-esque Zen Summer found him newly arrived in Los Angeles enjoying a warmer climate and better spirits, full of dreams and excitement. But Plays With Fire suggests that the colder months have come again, unsure of himself once again and afraid of the future.
With the years between records growing, Taormina sounds unsure of how many albums are still to come and of who is still listening. It’s an album that doesn’t appear to know if it’s a letter of introduction or a formal resignation, but it’s a perfect soundtrack for long nights and uncertain times. The polarizing voice remains, the sincerity remains, the sadness and the joy remain, but this is a new experience from Cloud.