Indietronica artist acloudyskye soars through the hazy firmaments of depression, coming down with lush and heartfelt wall of sounds with There Must Be Something Here.

Release date: February 23, 2024 | Independent | Bandcamp | X | Instagram

The successful migration of electronic artists to rockier avenues is of no secret at this point (see: yeule and Jane Remover) – and I honestly can’t blame them. The scope of sounds and atmospheres that this transition brings helps broaden a particular artistic vision or accomplishes conveying a more grounded and humanizing set of moods. This is especially the case with acloudyskye, a New York-based project that distanced itself from dubstep-infused EDM in favor of a more indietronica sound palette with its fourth full-length record There Must Be Something Here. With it, acloudyskye delivers a devastatingly sincere account of loving devotion, inner turmoils, and cautious optimism all through a sonic worldbuilding that is inviting as it is intense.

There Must Be Something Here is an album that perpetually finds itself grasping for light in this dreamlike constant midst an increasingly alarming apprehension that’s urgent and honest. Each track tells the tale of struggling with self-destructive thoughts and the harm that causes to those we hold on to dearly; an all too familiar story about both avoidance and the search of hope in others. This being my very first experience with acloudyskye, I was immediately immersed with the breadth they were able to showcase here, reminding me of a merging between the lushness of Porter Robinson and the nostalgic reveries perfected by Parannoul.

“Relay” begins the album with the lines ‘I know how this will end‘ and finishes the track by repeating the lines of the record title, immediately establishing the emotional uncertainties consonant to the record. This is accompanied by increasingly-welling synth patches, dominant bass and drum work, and a compressed production that give these conflicting emotions a directness that is undoubtedly resonating – because the urgency lies in showcasing a compelling heart-to-heart rather than romanticizing or maximalizing the feelings bound to the current state of things. This is even more evident on the vocals which are rich yet silky, making the storytelling laid out throughout the album even more striking.

This tug-of-war between the desire to be someone’s source of light and comfort, and being consumed by despondent thoughts is a common theme on There Must Be Something Here, demonstrated through both soaring and animated soundscapes. “Surface” precisely falls under the latter, presenting itself with the demeanor of a Midwest emo track with its youthful drive and bright, arpeggiated melodies, fitting for a song with fervent escapist tendencies. Same goes for the upbeat electronic rock cut “Flares”, which is arguably the poppiest off the album even with its grittier production, earnestly capturing the complexities that bring these emotions through its chorus:

That I need something
That’s out of reach from me

So just hold on back looking through the gaps and you’ll see
What’s been missing.

And then it gets to me
Walls closing in, slowly
Then it’s hard to breathe
I will try and think of the things
We could be.

The record progresses from coping and finding assurance midst the feelings of hurt and perceived loss (exemplified by the hauntingly beautiful ballad “Team”) to an unfortunate descent towards the bleak mind of the lyrical speaker. The music provides further emphasis to this shift in a punch-to-the-gut fashion, too; somber guitar leads clash with heavy percussions to welcome this realization on “Depths”, with a solid post-rock build-up and payoff leading way to the song’s chilling last lines: ‘somеthing’s taken over/you’re not coming back‘.  “Quicksand” follows up with a murkier sound as the instrumental track showcases the anxiety and helplessness that arise from this descent with passages that, curiously enough, are not unlike riffs you find on some stoner doom outputs. This de facto three-parter culminates with the dissociative “Fossils” – a track brimming with defeat and whose anthemic pacing is akin to that of a tragic swansong.

Up to this point, acloudyskye manages to display a humble yet noted confidence through There Must Be Something Here‘s sonic cohesiveness. Every pace, note, and transition smoothly falls into place while never taking away the emotional weight on each song, and this pattern indeed continues throughout the rest of the record as a glimmer of light starts to appear with “Ditch”. While not necessarily hinting at happy endings, the track regardless brings back the upbeat catchiness to signal a showcasing of vulnerability in the midst of being in the depths of depression, beautifully captured by the following lines in tandem with the rest of the song’s ruminative musings on this ambiguous relationship presented throughout the record:

Fever coming down
Light touching the ground by your fingers and
I will be the sound
Of a thousand glaciers crashing down.

It is with “Left”, though, that the album sees a climactic moment of clarity. It is here that the worries are briefly put aside to propose a compromise or at least an understanding from the tribulations of the lyrical speaker’s tattered relationship with their beloved – because, ultimately, it all goes back to a want and a desire that may never have left. Reflections of sacrifice and yearning are had with an openness and tenderness only emphasized by tasteful string sections, impassioned instrumentation, and some of the strongest vocal performances off the record. Concluding the album is the aptly-titled “Ends”, a serene closer that exposes the cyclical nature of depression and a rather open-ended fate between these two characters, further demonstrating acloudyskye‘s talents for strong, concise songwriting that is able to hit you to the core.

There Must Be Something Here is one of those albums that may seem unassuming at first, but is ultimately crafted with a musical vision that is impressively clear and thorough, especially coming from a place of sheer genre exploration. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt on this record eventually becoming a sleeper hit from how sincere and heartfelt all of it is. Besides being easily relatable, the songs instill a particular sense of longing that stays with you long after you listen to them, and that in itself is indicative of the power in acloudyskye‘s compositional skills. Truly, the risks they took paid off in an exciting fashion simply because this is the beginning for them. Yes, there’s always room for improvement, though you can rest assured that what has been accomplished here is nothing short of admirable.

Leave a Reply