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Majical Cloudz make extremely surprising music. This is not because there are so many hidden layers and depths to their sound, but in fact the exact opposite: everything is presented front and centre with no masking whatsoever. There's the simple atmospheric sound bed provide by Matthew Otto, then singer Devon Welsh's voice on top crystal clear with the stress of every emotion audible in each extended vowel. The words themselves are the most shocking part of all; honest, brutal, unashamed, depressed, euphoric, whatever the feeling Welsh is trying to convey you'll be sure to feel it deeper than on a lingual level.

Are You Alone? is the Canadian duo's second official full length and continues the stripped-back, dimly luminous musical poetry of their debut. The title itself and the sparse cover speaks to the demure style of Majical Cloudz, and a cursory listen to their music would easily see many newcomers instantly label it "depressing." That bouts of depression probably did inform large parts of the album does not mean that the music is depressing, in fact once again Majical Cloudz subvert this expectation with their simplicity and honesty.

Are You Alone? presents its title as a question to the listener, and if the answer is 'yes' then this album is here to come and drape an arm around you, talk to you and let you know that everybody feels this way sometimes. The album is riddled with heart-rending affirmations of self-worth. "You've gotta learn to love me / Cause I am what I am," yearns Welsh with unabashed sentiment on 'Heavy', while Otto's languidly paced beat and cresting synths send this simple affirmation flying straight into the heart of any dejected listeners. The purifying closer 'Call On Me' talks about being friends until the end of life, and while doesn't stray away from sobering imagery ("I am your friend until I lie in the ground"), it will still leave you feeling warm and comforted; such is the power of Welsh's unflinching, tender delivery.

The album title is not only an offer to console the listener though; it's also a challenge to ask yourself if you're really alone - and what you can do about this. 'So Blue' features Welsh talking directly to someone, who could easily be a surrogate for the listener, and imploring them "try not to be so blue," while Otto gently lays out piano, strings and synth to make the whole song as intimate as a late-night heart-to-heart. They confront the suicidal on 'Easier Said Than Done' demanding "why would you wanna die?" before adding the kicker "what about my love?" reminding the subject that they're far from solitary in this life.

'If You're Lonely' is particularly affecting as Welsh honestly tells us of how he was in love, lost it suddenly and fell into a spiral of dispiritedness, how he convinced himself he was destined to be alone. But the story continues and we can hear in his voice the overcoming of these doubts and eventually he heroically affirms that he's made it through it: "I was wrong to feel that I couldn't feel love, that I couldn't love again, that I couldn't make new friends and be someone new." This song encapsulates the down-to-earth, self-healing and non-overbearing way that Majical Cloudz present their personal battles that makes them so unique. By presenting it so unguardedly and letting the drama come from the honesty (coupled with expertly crafted simple sound beds), Majical Cloudz set themselves apart from other acts. While many will still dismiss them for being unexciting, there will be many people out there that forge a strong connection with their music; people who need this album to make them feel comfort, to make them feel companionship, to help them accept themselves and, ultimately, to make them feel less alone.

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