Canadian collective Crack Cloud sound like something out of a dystopian graphic novel – an ever expanding collective who formed after recovery from drug addiction, making art to reconnect to the wider world, blending a pure punk philosophy of artistic creation with an almost Situationist mode of communal living.
Happily for us though, their disparate influences extend to the music. Pain Olympics is an absolute triumph. Other bands wear a myriad of genres somewhat self-consciously; this lot not only transcend all of them, but create something new, raw and truthful in the process. It’s not just assured as a debut, it’s spat out into the world fully formed and forward-looking.
The singles Tunnel Vision and Ouster Stew may playfully poke at post-punk, the former a propulsive glower, the latter like someone throwing Talking Heads down some stairs, but the rest of the album is not only ambitious, but with enough ideas to sustain the audacity.
Zach Choy’s chanted lyrics feel manifesto-like, a siren call from one who has sunk to the bottom to those at the top, ruining lives with no real idea of how ordinary people scrabble to survive.
If that all sounds a bit didactic, it’s really not. There’s no Rage Against the Machine style polemic here. Crack Cloud aren’t about telling listeners what to think, they credit people with enough intelligence to find their own path. They eschew mainstream irony, cool and the homogeneity of the curated hipster playlist.
Favour Your Fortune is a bubbling industrial/hip-hop melee, The Next Fix cooks up Afrobeat and 80s synths, whereas Bastard Basket is hypnotic, ominous post-jazz for these trying times.
Even the opening track Post Truth (Birth Of A Nation) defies easy pigeonholes. It’s skittish militaristic funk with brass fanfares, holy choirs and throbbing bass, crescendoing into an unholy scream: a warning from history that we’re all living far from where we should be.
Marinaded in uncertainty, Pain Olympics is nonetheless defiant, a reminder that the most interesting art comes from unexpected angles. Repeated listens reap rewards: it feels like a future classic.