It feels like a promising start when an artist you admire (Aidan Moffat) endorses the band you’re reviewing (Cloth). Cloth is their self-titled debut album, and is the result of the band perfecting their sound together since 2016. Big things have been expected of this Scottish trio and it seems everyone except me has been on the edge of their seat, waiting for this release (not because they’re shit, just because I’m sometimes late to the party).
Cloth hail from Glasgow, which is another plus point – Glasgow has a history of exporting some incredible music. Their sound is generally very minimalist and dreamy (think The XX). There is tons of mellow bass alongside droplets of pretty guitar. Amongst the gentle twangs of guitar, the chimes, and the often down-beat drums, is one of the softest examples of the Glaswegian accent you’ll ever hear. Brooklyn particularly showcases singer Rachael Swinton’s haunting vocals.
The album opens with Other; a pulsating, electronic track, void of any vocals (which definitely suits the song). Apparently it was created on an iPhone. I can’t decide if that’s soulless or very impressive. I guess if you love it, does it matter?
Love Demo is probably my favourite track on the album, and judging by the amount of Spotify listens, it’s by far their most popular song. And for good reason. It made a cold January morning on a bus travelling through Rochdale momentarily feel like I was heading to the beach in the Californian sunshine. My daydream was dashed when the song abruptly ended. At least it flowed into the very beautiful Sleep, which feels like a lullaby for grown-ups. In fact, much of the album felt like it was encouraging me to drift off, but not in a bad way.
More of my favourite bits include the striking beginning of Curiosity Door, where it sounds like church bells, and the pretty chorus of Old Bear (this has been frequently stuck in my head and I completely fail to hit the high notes whenever I attempt to hum it).
I’ll be honest, when I first started listening to the record, it felt flat (aside from Love Demo and a couple of other tracks).
There were many times I was waiting for the songs to build up to some super heavy noise. I wanted masses of instruments to start kicking in to counterbalance the gentleness of the album.
It initially felt frustrating at how stripped back it is, and I wanted them to get to the heights of Love Demo again, which never happened. But I just don’t think they’re that kind of band. And actually, being assaulted by noise wasn’t what I wanted every time I listened to it. On another listen, after a particularly busy day, I was grateful that I was getting to hear something more laid back, to relax me on my way home.
The album definitely grew on me as I got to know it better, and I finally clicked with it after several listens. I started to appreciate those subtle shifts in the music, which, once you’ve noticed them, feel like massive shifts, and you look forward to hearing them again. I started to hear energy where I originally didn’t. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here, and next time I’ll be waiting on the edge of my seat.
Words by Kim Fernley.