Review Summary: Woum proves to be juvenile for Ben Sharp's standards, which is why it sticks out like a sore thumb in his discography.
Welcome to the unwarranted sequel of Let yourself be Huge
. Whatever made that album so emotionally complex and unique simply doesn’t exist with Woum
. Everything brilliant about it happened to be context, execution and the feeling that the songs were all moving toward a payoff. However, with the abysmally named Woum
, it’s actually surprising how much of Ben Sharp’s talent for song writing and musicianship wasn’t applied here. All of it sounds like the soundtrack to a very urgent scene from a movie, but only without anything to get emotionally invested in. With the exception of the closer, none of this is unlistenable in any way. In fact, it’s quite pleasant and lush throughout. Even with that said, this is not enough for the listener to get completely immersed in Ben’s often exceptional musicianship. Instead, what the listener gets here proves to be a simplistic, atmospherically driven alternative rock album.
As stated before, this album exists in the same inspiring light as Let yourself be Huge
, but without the emotional weight. The lazily titled “Intro to Woum” without a doubt sets the tone for the entire album, with it being driven by nothing but gently textured guitar work. The same can easily be said for “Trim Splint” as it prides itself on the same pleasant aspects of the opener. However, the best track on the album definitely proves to be “Plurals” by a mile. The guitar sound could easily be pulled out of a post rock song and the melodies Ben performs are certainly quite catchy. However, nothing truly moves toward any type of crescendo or payoff, nor does the guitar have any kind of unique sound to it. Though “Threaded” is undeniably driven by ambient guitars, it sounds like it could be ripped right off a Hammock, for better and for worse. It’s as if Ben was going for the blandest sound possible as a whole. As usual, he still does every bit of work here himself which is always a plus, but this is something many amateur artists can create themselves, which is strange because Ben Sharp has demonstrated the ability to be everything but amateur on numerous occasions.
There isn’t really much more to say about this one due to its very short nature and simplicity, unlike most of his work unfortunately. It showcases the same sound as Let yourself be Huge
, but nothing more. This also leads the listener to assume that said album was a fluke at far gentler music for him. Judging from this album, it’s drastically clear that he’s immensely better at creating progressive metal music. Woum
also ends on one hell of a head scratching note, with the instruments of “Mou” literally swaying back and forth, fading in and out along with what sounds like samples. It’s a terrible way to end the album, but the rest of it is far superior. After all is said and done, one can’t help but appreciate Ben Sharp as an artist no matter what he does despite this being a bit of a clunker. Not only is it his first true failure, but he releases his music under the radar for himself and only himself. He doesn’t ask for much. This record will undoubtedly reveal itself to be Cloudkicker’s most polarizing for his fans, but that’s alright. He clearly strived to create something more simplistic and leisurely in his free time, still never asking for an ounce of cash. Despite all the admiration of the man behind Cloudkicker, hopefully his next work will lean more towards the more engaging spectrum nonetheless.