Feeling jaded by the same few chord progressions in your playlist? Well, look no further. Peal’s “Clouds” takes the listener on a harmonic journey through intuitive, yet often unexpected chord choices. A guitar doused in plenty of flange and chorus greets us with an unforgettable motif. Combined with a repetitive, high-pitched keyboard riff, this intro has an undeniable mood: angsty, alluring, and urgent. This mood is confirmed as soon as the vocalist cries, “Oh doctor, doctor help me please / I just can’t get no relief,” setting up a compellingly frantic narrative. The power, grit, and raw emotion of this singer’s voice prepare the listener for something truly fantastic.

As the verse cruises along, there are no uneventful moments. Even in the first 30 seconds of the song, the rhythms, inflections, and harmonic choices are perfectly placed to keep things interesting without being confusing. After the first verse, these two wonderfully syncopated hits lead the listener into a short interlude that somehow manages to contain all the excitement of a keyboard solo, but in two measures. Verse two lasts until about the one-minute mark, and then the chorus arrives. The singer careens into a building falsetto, and the accompaniment harkens back to the aforementioned interlude with the perfect amount of recognition and familiarity. The singer yells, “Let’s drift away, riding on the clouds,” as the groove sets in, fulfilling what the song has promised the whole time: a catchy, gloriously volatile payoff.

The second verse and chorus unfold in a pretty similar fashion, except that the melody hurtles into the stratosphere in the last few seconds of the song. This crescendo settles with a few gentle strums of the electric guitar, ultimately resolving in a major key. Delightful and unanticipated, this song was captivating in every area. There is no doubt that the writers, instrumentalists, vocalists, and producers of “Clouds” really knew what they were doing.

Written by Alyce Lindberg





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