Crack Cloud’s new album Tough Baby is both a clarion call and a life-manual for the listener. Unsurprisingly, it is a record with purpose and resolve. Nothing is wasted. Sometimes the music feels deliberately compressed, the essences extracted and bottled into an overpowering cordial, as on ‘115 At Night’, which sounds like an ‘80s Van Halen track being squeezed into another shape. And it’s difficult to see how a track like ‘Virtuous Industry’ can hold itself together, such are the sonic hoops it jumps through. The sharp angles and hook-laden guitar lines that were once seen as a trademark sound are less in evidence. Last track ‘Crackin Up’ does nod back to earlier releases with a booming beat and guitars that snag, like wool on barbed wire.
Tough Baby contains music to think to, music with which to educate, agitate and organise. Zach Choy: “The name Tough Baby is an allusion to our Planet. To our Culture. And to our Selves.” It’s made to remind us that whilst we are all in the gutter to some extent, some of us are looking at the kerb.