Dealing with grief has been the primary driving force behind Craig Minowa’s songwriting since the 2002 death of his 2-year-old son. It’s been at the heart of each subsequent Cloud Cult album, providing a grounding element to his cosmically minded, vaguely New Age-y explorations of the big philosophical questions of life and our place in the universe. It’s significant then that Light Chasers is Minowa’s first since the 2009 birth of Nova, his second son with wife and bandmate Connie. On its eighth studio album, Cloud Cult’s musical approach remains a sweeping mix of Arcade Fire-esque indie rock, electronica, and symphonically tinged folk—but new fatherhood brings a subtle, important shift in focus. Light Chasers isn’t about living with death, but about becoming better equipped for the journey through life. Minowa, who also produced, dives in with typical gusto, building the album into a sprawling, intricately interconnected 56-minute concept that often soars into emotionally operatic, cathartic heights. At their best, as on “Blessings” and “Today We Give Ourselves To The Fire,” Minowa’s songs are like hymns for a religion that hasn’t been invented yet. In weaker moments, they come across more like a self-help book, and occasional overindulgent touches, like the processed robotic vocals on “The Exploding People,” exacerbate that. It’s fitting, perhaps, that one of the album’s sparest songs, “You Were Born,” is also one of its most powerful—a simply stated father’s declaration of love.
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