Crack Cloud is a post-punk collective from Vancouver Canada, composed of individuals who found each other through the journey of recovering from addiction. The group banded together to find refuge in one another and to find an outlet via art, music and film making. Their latest release Pain Olympics is a rich and expansive result of this collective effort. The album is a melting pot of sounds and experiences, it goes through the highest ups with blissful soundscapes to the lowest downs of pain and suffering. Encompassing the worst times of addiction while finding hope and strength from the strong community that they have fostered.
In between stabs of post-punk guitars are sonic explorations full to the brim with jazzy flourishes, sprawling synth chords and wild song structures. Crack Cloud truly embraces the spirit of the group, with founding member Zach Choy maneuvering at the helm, Creating a wondrous blend that goes through a roller coaster of defeat and redemption.
Pain Olympics opens with “Post Truth (Birth of a Nation)” which starts with piercing post-punk hysterics in its opening seconds. It then dives into an angelic movement of glockenspiels and operatic echoes. Several ups and downs later and the song closes with a choir singing in solidarity: “We are all post-truth”. “Bastard Basket” follows with brooding drum and bass drones and blurry synth lines. The line “Where do we go from this life? A process of erase” opens the song in its winding exploration of purpose. Blissful horns and strings accompany it as the song maneuvers into the seemingly distant corners of oblivion.
In “The Next Fix”, Cody goes into a frantic rap while accompanied by a cacophony of tones haphazardly forming the beat. He goes into a spiraling tirade of self-loathing: “Guilt is the word it’s burned into my mind all the time”. Just when everything seems dire, the choir emerges again singing: “When you’re feeling up or down / Don’t give up, it’s just life.”
Crack Cloud goes straight British punk in “Ouster Stew” and “Tunnel Vision”, while stretching their chops with bizarre textures and song structures. The former rants at how the pleas of those who are at their lowest constantly fall on deaf ears. The latter is half self-improvement, half self-loathing for someone who is sinking deep into bad habits.
The album ends with “Angel Dust”, which slips into dream pop with a radiant and triumphant energy. Closing out the collection in a resolute note, declaring that if we stay together, there is a future for us.
Pain Olympics is a wonderful achievement in terms of its content and the message that it embodies. It’s concrete proof that there is hope for those of us who want to move forward in life, and for those who are still deep in the gutters, there are people out there who know our plight and can help us out.