Arts

Are You Alone? Doesn’t shy away from emotion—it embraces it. Photo: CC, Matador.

Why you haven’t heard it

Montreal synthpop-duo Majical Cloudz has never attracted much attention outside of indie-circles—during their brief existence. The band, which was active from 2010 to 2016, was quietly praised by music publications, but never to the point that they were picked up by a wider audience.

Their second album, 2015’s Are You Alone?, is largely a continuation of the sound they had forged with their previous releases, so its appeal was mainly limited to existing Majical Cloudz fans, of which—again—there weren’t a whole lot.

Their growth was also hindered by the fact that they broke up five months after Are You Alone? was released—further reducing the album’s potential for mainstream exposure.

Why it might be tough to get through

Are You Alone?, like all of Majical Cloudz’s music, is very quiet and mellow—and can even border on ambient.

Most songs consist of little more than misty, atmospheric synths, which lie underneath the melancholic, and emotionally direct lyrics that singer Devon Welsh belts out. Indeed, music this minimal and downbeat can be boring—if you’re not in the right mood for it.

This album also has very little musical diversity. Each song uses a very similar stylistic template, which can be a turn-off if you’re looking for something immediate and exciting. In fact, half the songs don’t even have drums, and the ones that do aren’t exactly bangers.

Why you should listen to it anyway

Simply put, Devon Welsh’s vocals and lyrics are stunning. His booming baritone voice cuts through the songs’ hazy synth-beds and commands your attention—leaving you no choice, but to listen to him as he spills his soul into your ears.

His lyrics deal with love, loss, and isolation, but rarely in black-and-white terms; even his most joyous moments are tinged with darkness—and, likewise, he always finds room for optimism in his sorrow—on a song that is bluntly named “So Blue,” the title phrase is preceded by “I’ll try not to be.”

Are You Alone? transforms introversion and solitude into empowerment—into something worth singing about at the top of your lungs. Basically, if you answered “yes” to the album’s title, then Are you Alone? is for you.

Fun facts

  • Devon Welsh is the son of actor Kenneth Welsh—best known for playing the mysterious Windom Earle on Twin Peaks.
  • The group has collaborated with Grimes—whom Welsh once also dated—and they opened for Lorde on her North American tour in 2014.
  • Welsh embarked on a solo career after the band’s breakup—releasing the 2016 odds-and-ends collection Down the Mountain, and his proper debut album, Dream Songs, earlier this year.

Best lines and songs

“Can I try to be you?/Can I dress up in your clothes and be somebody new?/Can I dance in a pair of your shoes?” (“Control.”)

“So if you’re lonely/You don’t have to be all alone/No one has to be that way/No one has to be afraid of being loved.” (“If You’re Lonely.”)

“There’s one thing I’ll do/If it ever goes wrong/I’ll write you into my all of my songs.” (“Downtown.”)