Majical Cloudz, the duo of Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto, will release their highly anticipated new album Are You Alone? on October 16, and Paper has a premiere of the video for "Silver Car Crash." 2013's Impersonator was one of those midnight-of-the-soul albums that connected hard with people, and while "Silver Car Crash" is more propulsively romantic than anything he's done before, Welsh says he didn't feel any pressure to live up to anyone's expectations but his own.
On songs like "Disappeared" and "If You're Lonely," you're almost nakedly direct and unguarded. Your lyrics are to the point, and your voice sits high and clear above everything else. Were you worried at all about putting yourself out there like this? What made you decide to just go for it?
I don't think I'm "going for it," what is there to lose? It's just music -- I'm not risking my life! The best music I've ever heard is always taking a risk, I think if music doesn't take a risk it's boring. I hope our album takes some kind of risk. If it doesn't, we've failed.
When following up a well-received album, a lot of younger artists will opt to go bigger. They'll add on more instruments, more tracks and try to make everything sound huge. There's big moments on Are You Alone?, but overall it sounds even more minimal than Impersonator. It still sounds like you're tying to do a lot with a little. Did you consciously decide to stay the course?
The band does a certain thing naturally, because I write songs that way and because the production choices Matt and I agree on are a certain way. Changing our music for reasons that don't have to do with what we actually want to do aren't good choices to make. I don't think it was thought about too heavily, we just worked on the songs I had written, and this is what we ended up with. Sounding huge isn't really the band's style.
You toured for quite a while following the release of Impersonator. What was it like readjusting to civilian life when you were done, and how did this experience inform Are You Alone?
Very bizarre. Anyone who has done a lot of touring or had a job that has involved a lot of travel will tell you that it definitely offers a different lifestyle than being in the same place all the time. While we were touring Impersonator and afterwards, I was very confused and maladjusted in ways I didn't even recognize at the time. Now I have a very routine-oriented life, and it's good, confusing in its own ways but ultimately much healthier.
I think we worked on Are You Alone? for a long time because we could, we weren't really touring a lot at the time, and also because we probably needed to work on it for a while.
How did "Silver Car Crash" come about, anyway? It's the closest you've come to a happy love song. Were you eager to take on the challenge of writing a song like that while remaining true to yourself, or did the prospect of such a thing make you nervous?
I didn't feel nervous about writing it or anything else. I didn't force myself to write any of the songs on this record, it would be silly to do any different. I can't really help but stay true to myself, I'm writing the songs.