The Clouds were one the best Australian indie bands of the 90s, and one of the most prolific, spending most of the decade recording and touring. They had three Top 50 albums, including their classic 1991 debut Penny Century. Back then they were simply known as Clouds.
Part of a new wave of indie pop bands in the country, alongside such prominent luminaries as Ratcat, The Hummingbirds and Falling Joys, The Clouds developed something of a cult following and toured the world a few times before disbanding in 1997.
Their music was based around the dual vocal and guitar harmonies of Jodi Phillis and Patricia Young, both talented musicians and unique songwriters. The two have been joined by various lead guitarists and drummers over the years, but have reunited with original members David Easton and Raphael Whittingham respectively.
While members were involved in other projects, it wasn’t until 2011 when they reformed for a national tour with Jesus Jones, but Zaffre marks the first new material from The Clouds in 20 years. It’s a short and sweet three-track EP that’s been released digitally only, perhaps testing the water, and promising more to come. It’s not breaking any new ground, but the three songs are a perfect reminder of what made The Clouds an original and much loved band – with amazing harmonies, beautifully written songs and creative chord progressions.
Mabel’s Bookshop is a joyous burst of indie pop and an ode to hanging out in bookshops, with chugging guitars and a nifty little lead riff from Easton. It sounds exactly like a classic Clouds song, but not at all in a stale way.
Float On Air is just a gorgeous shimmering number that highlights the pitch perfect beauty of Phillis and Young’s combined voices over sparkling synths before a layer of warm, fuzzy guitars comes in and takes things into the stratosphere. Classic songwriting with a Beatles-esque edge.
A more insistent, progressive guitar riff kicks off House of the Sun, building again around the powerful, driving vocals. You’d be hard pressed to find another Australian band, any band in fact, with two frontwomen who harmonise as well.
It’s a solid EP and a timely reminder of a great band that never got the big break they richly deserved. The Clouds sound well and truly alive again on this trifecta of tunes and have lost nothing of the qualities that made them such a unique, alluring band – hopefully a full length album with follow.
They launch the EP officially with a show in Sydney at the end of the month, before embarking on the A Day on The Green national tour with Blondie and Cyndi Lauper in April. As well as the two headliners, our girls are talents well worth getting down early to see.