Transformation, transition and evolution. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad root their sound in the discomfort, woes and tribulations of their maturity; synchronised harmony in idiosyncratic disharmony with their world. A world to make you more alone – stale device, this is the world that forms their inception, to capture it musically is beautifully ironic. “The shrillness of a world so still”, this is where their truth really manifests, where they most tangibly resonate with listeners. They’ve added to their stripped-back aggravated riffs, for a fuller sound, often a fuzzy rebellion disguised as dream pop, that they’ve wrapped around themselves. A quilt of subtle punk; warm and inviting, disarming listeners, allowing them to fall in and intwine with their honest, gliding pros.
Like a lot of great albums, each song sounds entirely unique from the first to last. Trying to predict what follows would be futile, both true for this track listing and future albums. The variation of songs was amplified by the writing process. Whilst Before the World Was Big and Powerplant were written by the two, in the same room, entwining their experience to make a united front, What Chaos is Imaginary was conceived across state lines. The two had separated and focussed on their solo careers, then reunited to use this experience to formulate their new tracks. This explains the new, mature sounds. Each song, each experience, is picked apart, has more personality, allows for deciphering of the full emotions and stories they tell.
Opener ‘Lucy’s’ invites you into the world of Cleo Tucker, a world lapsed with fantasy and a soberingly real misery. The ride that’s lead to this album hasn’t been easy – as your late teens and early 20s tend not to be. Amplified by the pathetic beauty of musicality, they let us into the growth through this period; the isolating, confusing aspects of their careers; both professional and personal. ‘Where You Sink’, like a storybook, paints a picture of persons distant from the rest of the world, looking in, alien and alone.
‘Josephs Dad’, has a nostalgic essence that brings you back to the previous albums, it makes the record slightly more synchronized with the rest of their discography; a blatant, traceable, development. This feels true for most of Cleo’s songs on the album, such as ‘Stale Device’, where they weave between Cleo’s fresh, unique scores. I think it’s safe to say through the algorithm of distance they’ve adopted, they’ve ensured both the satisfaction of the old tracks we love and the opportunity to become besotted by a new sound and attitude.
This album appears less political than previous, more personal, a vignette into the internal conflicts they’ve made apparent. Or maybe it’s personal/political in the setting of the digital age: pristine, photoshopped, perfect; to allow for vulnerability in this way is a blessed feat. This is what gives it strength, an act of heroism with plenty of reverb. This kind of connection with listeners can only be achieved when laying yourself on the line, so bare: “Rehearsing what’s reality, what chaos is imaginary”.
The finale, ‘Roses’, carries us out upon Cleo Tucker’s elongated, all encompassing vocal, a shoegazey track, that benefits from Harmony’s delicate backing vocals. It’s a perfect finish, we melt into the bent notes and fuzz, being carried down a stream into your own subconscious, inviting you to ponder the record further.
Alongside being unguarded insights into their mind’s eye, these tracks are also just great tunes. The roots of their first album, Before The World Was Big, are still tied into their new sound, yet, it’s bigger and arguably better, definitely more crisp, less of the folky alt punk that caught our attention in the beginning. This album, unlike previous records, is one you could play in a room of people and half of them won’t wince at the high pitched, shouting vocals.