Plumbiferous Media

Cloak and Cipher - Land of Talk

Aug 29th 2010
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Cloak and Cipher - Land of TalkLand of Talk
Cloak and Cipher
Score: 62

Cana­di­an indie-rock band Land of Talk released its sec­ond stu­dio album since its for­ma­tion in 2006 this past Tues­day. An extra­or­di­nar­i­ly typ­i­cal indie-rock album, not much else is tru­ly extra­or­di­nary about Cloak and Cipher. That’s not to say that the album is bad by any strech of the imag­i­na­tion. For an exceed­ing­ly gener­ic album, Cloak and Cipher is exceed­ing­ly good. It is very much a plea­sure to lis­ten to, just not much more than that.

Front­woman Eliz­a­beth Pow­ell pro­vides lead vocals for Cloak and Cipher. Through the album, Pow­ell demon­strates a vari­ety of vocal styles, some more suc­cess­ful than oth­ers. The more suc­cess­ful styles do a good job at demon­strat­ing Pow­ell’s vocal skills as well as the flu­id sound of her voice, while the less suc­cess­ful include styles such as the inter­mit­tent slight­ly mut­ed, artif­i­cal­ly tin­ny sound of sec­tions like the begin­ning of “Cloak and Cipher.” The album does for­tu­nate­ly tend towards the for­mer styles - but there are enough moments like the lat­ter to dis­tract from those more often than they should.

Lyri­cal­ly, Cloak and Cipher ranges as much as it does vocal­ly. Switch­ing between poet­ic lines like “Light­ning and snow / Cracks and sliv­ers / Burned in a row” and less cre­ative lines such as “You can dri­ve in and dri­ve back / Pull the past behind you,” Cloak and Cipher man­ages to stay gen­er­al­ly inter­est­ing with­out ever seem­ing to tell a uni­fied sto­ry. Instead, the album relies heav­i­ly on the imagery of each lone track. This is met with var­i­ous lev­els of suc­cess, but it’s gen­er­al­ly true that Land of Talk has done a good job match­ing lyrics to sound, even if the lyrics aren’t always engrossing.

Cloak and Cipher is not just an indie-rock album. Cloak and Cipher screams indie-rock album. Of course, that means it has all of those advan­tages and flaws inher­ent in such albums, and it dis­plays them read­i­ly. The chords are inter­est­ing, but the struc­ture often lacks vari­a­tion. The album is dense and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly well punc­tu­at­ed by per­cus­sion, but there’s not all that much vari­a­tion between tracks in orches­tra­tion. And, of course, Cloak and Cipher is just the right amount of catchy, but you can tell right from the start that the album could eas­i­ly grow exceed­ing­ly dull.

That pre­dic­tion does, at least to some extent, come true. Or rather, while the album may not be exceed­ing­ly dull, it’s not an album that requires much atten­tion, nor an album that demands much atten­tion, nor an album that real­ly draws much atten­tion. Of course, in a way, that works out per­fect­ly, but then again it does mean the album real­ly can’t be all that good. The album always sounds decent, but not much more than decent. Cre­ativ­i­ty is more or less lim­it­ed to track titles (like “Blangee Blee”), and some­times lyrics as well, and the over­all result is an album that real­ly does sound good but real­ly does­n’t do any­thing with its sound.

Cloak and Cipher is cer­tain­ly not a per­fect album, and, due to a num­ber of flaws, it real­ly isn’t an excel­lent album either. It is, how­ev­er, an inter­est­ing album. With Cloak and Cipher, Land of Talk has done enough things right to cre­ate an album that is at least some­what worth lis­ten­ing to - but not quite enough things right to make it exceptional.

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