Review Summary: With Pain Olympics, Crack Cloud created an eccentric, strange, and expansive art-rock/post-punk extravaganza unlike nothing else this year.
We've truly got something special here.
We've all heard records that make us think "how about that" for one or several moments through its entirety, this happened to me several times with Pain Olympics; It even made me feel compelled to write a review after almost 7 years. It's been a while, so hang in there with me.
Crack Cloud is a collective of musicians and artists from Vancouver that aim towards self-betterment. The common denominator amongst many of its contributors is drug addiction and a willingness to get out of bad habits and destructive tendencies by creating art. For me, that seems like a very cool, respectable premise that could definitely justify such a project.
Hopefully, that's working out perfectly for them because the music itself is excellent; it's a unique combination of punk, alternative rock, art-rock, and post-punk with an extra flair. It consistently reflects the overall themes they want to approach. There is a sense of unease, realism, and urgency that permeates this record through and through; making it feel like the perfect companion piece for a year as complicated as 2020. Its conceptual cohesiveness, flow, and very short duration (29 minutes) made this project feel like a potent, concise piece; every second count, and every song is a banger or has something interesting going on.
The album kicks in with the dynamic, purposeful, and beautiful song Post Truth (which is a highlight) and it instantly paints a clear picture to the listener of what the band/collective wants to achieve with this ambitious undertaking, all while being extremely unpredictable in general. Orchestral arrangements appear out of nowhere to expand and embellish each song, electronic sounds (Favour Your Fortune) compliment them, showing a general curiosity to experiment with various sounds, danceable/frantic punk sensibilities abound (songs like Ouster Stew and Tunnel Vision are perfect examples of this) and an incredible array of vocal deliveries (It seems like a lot of people are singing here) present themselves to make this record even more diverse.
In the end, this album represents a realistic yet hopeful (at times even joyful) take on isolation, addiction, and several other adverse situations/circumstances and turns them into a heartfelt, loving product made by artists who ultimately just want to get by and survive.