01. Welcome back
02. Explore, be curious
03. The word water
04. You and yours
05. One, many
06. It’s inside me, and I’m inside it
07. This isn’t
08. Let yourself be huge
1 – 16
I think it’s safe to say that at this point, Ben Sharp has gained enough notoriety in his project Cloudkicker to allow the bleeding through of his more subdued BM Sharp project, where he trades distorted guitars and polyrhythmic post-metal riffs for an acoustic guitar and soothing melodies. Let Yourself Be Huge and Loop are the convergence of Mr. Sharp’s repertoire as a guitarist and a songwriter, and is a very daring step to make.
The differences between Be Huge/Loop and 2010’s Beacons are plain as day; to compare the merits of one against the other would be almost foolish, like comparing Devin Townsend Project‘s Ghost and Deconstruction. They’re completely different beasts. This time around, Cloudkicker’s modus operandi lies in Ben mostly playing an acoustic guitar, which is a first for Cloudkicker as its own entity. To be honest, it’s a fantastic idea which I love, but it could have seen some better execution.
Let Yourself Be Huge is the “actual” new Cloudkicker album and includes mostly complete songs, where Loop is essentially just a collection of ideas that never really went anywhere and were fashioned into a companion piece. Granted, they’re good ideas, but it would have been nice to see some of them expanded into actual songs. Therein also lies the only problem with Let Yourself Be Huge—it doesn’t really feel complete either. Every other track feels like it was picked out from the best material that would have been on Loop and added in for padding. I would absolutely love it if “Welcome back” and “The word water” were transformed into full songs in the vein of the absolutely fantastic “It’s inside me, and I’m inside it” and the album’s title track, but they’re just ideas that leaves more to be desired. At under 26 minutes, there’s not all that much to it.
I know, I hate me too for having any negative criticisms for Cloudkicker. However, this doesn’t mean that both of these new additions to the Cloudkicker discography aren’t welcome. The actual songs on Let Yourself Be Huge are phenomenal pieces of work. He even did the once unimaginable and performed vocals on “Let Yourself Be Huge,” which worked incredibly well. The aforementioned “It’s inside me, and I’m inside it” has got to be one of the best Cloudkicker songs to date as well, so Mr. Sharp should be proud of the work he has done here.
Overall, Let Yourself Be Huge and Loop are collectively a great step forward in the Cloudkicker sound that I hope to see more of in the future, despite their flaws. A whole album filled with complete acoustic post-rock songs (with vocals even!) would be whole-heartedly welcomed, without a doubt. Still, these two releases are absolutely free and you can’t fault Ben for releasing this music without asking for anything in return. The dude’s an inspiration and undeniable proof that a small independent artist can function these days by using the internet and pay-what-you-want tactics. He even released Let Yourself Be Huge on vinyl (which I purchased and would highly recommend). Do you know how much it costs to press vinyl? Mr. Sharp paid for it himself with revenue from Beacons, and this is just a hobby of his. Respect this man and celebrate every release, because I don’t ever seeing him releasing anything bad.