Cumulus Album Review
Album Review–I Never Meant it to be Like This by Cumulus
There’s not much to say about Cumulus’ debut album, I Never Meant it to be Like This that has not been said a thousand times already on similar indie pop records. But while this particular record may not be the epitome of originality, there is no denying the sheer efficacy of the album as a whole. With crisp production tones and quality songwriting, the band was able to create an album that, though sometimes seemed to drown heavily underneath the weight of its own musical landscapes, was made absolutely endearing by its imperfections.
The first few tracks of I Never Meant it to be Like This were infused with the innocence of pop music. The lighthearted, sugar-coated melodies of the likes of the opening song “Do you Remember” and of the third track “Middle” were filled with what could only be described as the energy and innocence of a fresh beginning. This heavily reflected in the lyrics, the latter of which were mostly concerned about the tendency of young love to fade away. “Do you remember when young meant invincible?” As lead singer and guitarist Alexandra Niedzialkowski “oohed” away in her signature airy voice reminiscent of Julia Stone (or maybe I imagined it?) the rest of the band (Lance Umble on guitar and Leah Julius on bass) was hard at work on creating the lush, intoxicating atmospheres present on I Never Meant it to be Like This.
The album took on a dreamier tone with what would become my favourite song on the album, “Ocean Song”. As the band abandoned the pop-driven melodies, the energy gave way to melancholy, the song evocative of the ocean before a storm. The anticipation, however, never truly intensified to a breaking point, and the song ended much like it had begun, the anti-climax giving “Ocean Song” a hint of mystery. “I fell in love with the ocean / I’d like the ocean to swallow me whole”. From there on end, Cumulus exposed a heavier, more mature sound that, to my opinion at least, seemed to fit the almost-nostalgic vocals of Niedzialkowski better. “Wanderlust” followed in the footsteps of “Ocean Song”, the track characterized by its heartbreaking melancholy and flawless use of keyboards.
“Little Ghost” was another highlight on the album for me, the stunning performance of Niedzialkowski emphasized by the instrumentation blending softly in the background. This gave Niedzialkowski’s voice the chance to shine more brightly than ever. I am not certain whether it was her performance or the delicate melody or a mixture of both, but the youthful naivety that could be found in the beginning of the album was once again present on “Little Ghost”, the track revealing a sudden and poignant vulnerability.
The same vulnerability (and ever-youthful naivety for that matter) made their reappearance in the ending song, “Night Swimming”. Echoing the opening track “Do You Remember” and once more defining youth from invincible to unsustainable, “Night Swimming” was a peaceful, personal affair narrated by the lovely Niedzialkowski. What a gorgeous closure to the album.
Beneath the colourful, exquisite album art hid the shimmery, layered sound of Cumulus. As lead singer and guitarist Alexandra Niedzialkowski crooned and wailed the demises of young love with grace and elegance, her vocals helped give the album a less abrasive tone. The result was a nuanced, thoughtful, guitar-driven indie pop that struck the perfect balance between energy and tranquility. I Never Meant it to be Like This should satisfy quite a few indie pop lovers out there, the album a solid debut release that will hopefully pave the way for many more to come.
Fantastic album, absolutely magnificent. Definitely room for improvement - hope to see that in the future album(s)