If you think you know sink \ sink, listen again. The New Zealand band has overgone a drastic overhaul in the last year, and now features Stray Theories’ Micah Templeton-Wolfe along with prominent string work from cellist Catherine Milson. But the biggest change is to the vocal aspect. Founder Gareth Schott describes Ylva Krantz as “a more instrumental voice”, and while such a phrase sounds oxymoronic, it also rings true. An “instrumental voice” is an unobtrusive voice, or a voice used as texture as well as for the delivery of lyrics (see Jónsi for the most overused, but best example). Hopelandic may not be sung on this album, but English (Side A), Swedish (Side B) and miscellaneous hums and aahs (across the album) are found here. Even on the lyric tracks, the vocals often recede into a swell of strings or guitar, leaving vapor in their midst.
At its heart, a lone cloudburst is a shoegaze album, conjuring comparison to the gentler tracks of Cocteau Twins. This puts it in a slightly different category than its predecessor, the beguiling yet sometimes inconsistent The Darkest Dark Goes. That album contained striking highs but also jarring lows, while the new work is consistent throughout. Some one might argue that in the digital age, they would prefer the former, but the latter makes for a better all-around work. This being said, the new album still yields some standout tracks. Opening piece “cherished” is one of these, due to a catchy introduction “you’re the shadow of my shadow” and the secession of lyrics at the two-minute mark, which allows the cello to shine in the second half of the piece. “a distant backdrop” starts with the lone cloudburst of the title and develops into a quiet storm of wordless windings, cello and bell tones. And by using Krantz as part of the drone in “last call sounded”, sink \ sink points the way to yet another possible direction for the band. Steady evolution seems to be the pattern here; so far, every step made has been in the right direction. (Richard Allen)