Spin - "In their own quiet way, these are confrontational songs; not in the sense that they're classically aggressive, but because they're so probing and straightforward."
Spin - "ARE YOU ALONE? seems at home in its darkness, stark but somehow never dreadful."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[With] stark, ethereal instrumentals buoyed by Welsh's unflinching voice."
Audio Mixers: Tyler Fitzmaurice; Tyler Crawford; Matthew Otto.
On Are You Alone?, Majical Cloudz pick up where the exceptionally beautiful Impersonator left off two years prior, and issue more sparse arrangements of hypnotic, minor-key electronics under plaintive cries and intimate observations, like a subdued, post-apocalyptic offspring of the Blue Nile. The album begins like a dust bowl sunrise, with plunking, distorted piano tones, and Devon Welsh's calm, covetous vocals on the loss-pervaded "Disappeared" ("Those that forever disappeared/All I want is for you to talk to me"). It's impressionistic, almost Debussy-like but with fewer notes, and eventually saxophone and the soft sounds of rushing water. "So Blue" instead offers misty accompaniment via cathedral-like organ and choral voicings, though manufactured-seeming and amalgamated with spare percussion to futuristic effect. The song also features strings and additional drums by Owen Pallett, adding warm textures to the humming, harmonious synths. This type of gently varied instrumentation invigorates the album without disrupting it, as do the fluffy marimba tones of the surging "Game Show," and recurring metallic beats throughout. "Change" feels relatively upbeat musically with one of the record's prettier melodies, but is far from content, and delivers the cautionary "I want to believe in everything you say, but I'm already feeling change." It's an album of longing and disquiet. To call any of the songs wistful seems inadequate; they are engulfed in saudade. The experience of Are You Alone? is perhaps best captured by lyrics in its hopeful yet still desolate closer, "Call on Me:" "Like a long ending in a film I have seen/We will ride up that hill, put a tear in their eyes/I remember how it ends, we survive/And the audience sighs." ~ Marcy Donelson