Recording information: Albert Music Studios; Judson Family Home; Kelshaw Family Home; Three Shades Green.
Having formed on the spur of the moment for a local Battle of the Bands contest, New South Wales quartet Cloud Control certainly appear to have extolled the virtues of spontaneity after recently winning the Australian Music Prize for their debut album, Bliss Release. As its title suggests, its ten tracks are a tour de force in psychedelic dream pop whose warm, lush harmonies, chilled-out vibes, and organic production from Belles Will Ring's Liam Judson are perfectly suited for a drive along the coastlines of the Blue Mountain-area, where the band originates. Opener "Meditation Song #2 (Why Oh Why)" blends Fleet Foxes-esque pastoral folk with distorted guitar riffs and handclapped rhythms, and Alister Wright and Heidi Lenffer's ethereal dual vocals to produce a glorious blast of sun-soaked, '60s-tinged pop. Equally mystical is the jangly indie pop of "There's Nothing in the Water We Can't Fight," an enchanting ode to the Hindu God of Water, inspired by an excursion to India; the thumping kick drums and post-punk melodies of the meditative "Ghost Story," and the languid MGMT-ish prog rock leanings of "The Rolling Stones." But the follow-up to their 2008 self-titled EP also occasionally throws in some other world influences to complement its otherworldly state of mind, as on the likes of "Gold Canary," whose groove-laden Afro-beat owes a nod to the band they've recently supported, Vampire Weekend, while the gorgeously tender Grizzly Bear-style acoustic ballads "Hollow Drums" and "Just for Now" offer a respite for anyone overwhelmed by its overriding sense of hippie chic. Bliss Release is perhaps a little too derivative to justify the classic status it's been afforded in the band's homeland, but it's still a delightfully charming debut, made even more impressive by their hastily assembled beginnings. ~ Jon O'Brien