Tales From The Black Cloud

by Cherry Blossoms

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about

Love is supposed to be about your feelings for another person, but the hard truth is that it’s really about your feelings for yourself. Tales from the Black Cloud explores the self-centered nature of love and acknowledges that it is as much about one’s own self-image as it is about adoring someone else. And that can hurt like hell for both parties.
These songs are autobiographical, chronicling a time songwriter Chris Lopez says he didn’t want to write about, but felt he had to. He wanted the music to be “as unstable and unpredictable as my mental state at the time,” and it is. The songs on this album are their own unique beasts, with nontraditional structures that mix hard rock, acoustic balladry, and synth pop. There are hints of Johnny Marr, Brian Wilson, the Mael brothers, David Bowie, and even a little bit of ‘80s cock rock riffs, sometimes all within the same song, but they blend together into a singular, compelling noise. The vocal styles range from a whisper to a scream, tender pleading to frank anger. This is an album that needs to be listened to, not played in the background. Just when you think you know where it’s going musically, it shifts gears.
This album is the story, as Lopez puts it, of “the sad realization that nothing really went the way I imagined it would go. It represents my loss of innocence and the realizations that the heroes in my life are just as vulnerable as I am.” The protagonist wrestles with the desire to love and be loved and feels the pain that comes from realizing that the one he loves doesn’t quite love him back the way he wants her to. As much as it hurts, and as much as he knows “it’s not you, it’s me,” he can’t help but feel betrayed by her inability to respond to him in the way he wants her to. It may be because she still has feelings for someone else (“Tales From The Black Cloud”, “A Day in the Life of Danny Pink”) or it may be because his own actions have driven her away (“Can We Be Depressed Together?”), but that doesn’t make the pain any less, especially when she can’t or won’t be open about what’s wrong (“Ode to Insecurity,” “L’appel du Vide”). Or she may just not understand him as well as he thinks she does (“Early Morning Tragedy”). There are moments of ecstasy as the pair connect on a deep and intimate level followed by despair when the connection turns out to have been one-sided (“Patience and Ego in the Backyard”).
Tangential to the relationship is the narrator’s realization that his own struggles to preserve his mental health and to deal with the fallout from the unexpected crumbling of family relationships are coloring how he sees everything. He seeks refuge from his personal problems in his muse, but she has her own issues (“I need your help to get me out, but you’re too busy with the dead,” from “Ode to Insecurity”). On some level, he knows that he is using the relationship like a drug and hates himself for it (“I’m standing on the edge of self-destruction / But then when you are around / My mind seems to take on a different state / I know it’s fucked up to use you as my anti-depressant” from the album opener, “Monster”). She makes him feel better, but is that because of how she sees him or because of how he sees himself when he’s with her?
Simultaneously, his parents’ marriage is falling apart and he realizes that everything he learned from watching their relationship was wrong. His mother in particular is “the one we ought to blame / She really needs to find herself? / I say she needs to get some help” (“Familial Regress”). How much of his mother does he see in this girl? In “Patience and Ego in the Backyard,” he cries “How could I know what love is when my mother taught me wrong? / She hid so many secrets from me … I guess I’m saying that you and I, / We both could learn together.” At the end of the song, he makes the interesting observation that she “deserves to know the meaning of true love.” What is true here? Is it the traditional truth of their love for each other or the more complicated truth of seeing each other the way they really are instead of the way they each want to present themselves?
In the final song on the album, “We’ve Discovered Black Rainbows,” the narrator touches on the idea that he will have to hide parts of himself in order not to “drag you down with me,” yet she seems to be willing and able to embrace him, sadness and all. He closes the album with an optimistic observation: “I feel determined / To fight the evil that’s within me / I think we’ll both get through this / We still have time to make this year a good one.” That’s the thing about love, isn’t it? You open up your heart to someone else and you hope that person will accept everything about you and reflect the image you have of yourself back to you. Sometimes the reflection isn’t quite what you pictured even though they accept you. And that has to suffice. Tales from the Black Cloud doesn’t have any answers, only empathy. And that suffices.
- Villate McKitrick

credits

released August 12, 2016

All songs written, produced, and arranged by Chris Lopez.
Artwork by Juliette Lukasewycz.

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Track Name: Monster
I’ve been turning into a monster
Turning into something I don’t want to be
So why don’t you just leave me?
Tell me why you stay here instead of being free

Sometimes I get too depressed
To even just look you in the eye
I’m so afraid that you’ll be disappointed
My ego drives me insane
The way it always has to take control
Doesn’t it know the reason why I’m never sober

Can’t seem to make up my mind
My life has been fruitless as of late
I’m standing on the edge of self destruction
But then when you are around
My mind seems to take on a different state
I know it’s fucked up to use you as my anti-depressant

I’m afraid I’m just a pity friend
And all our times were just pretend
Don’t leave me here
I’m all alone
I can’t hurt you ‘cause you’re my twin
I won’t look back, just let me in
I know it’s scary
I know it’s scary...
Track Name: Summertime Lies
I don’t think I could hold on
I can’t take it anymore
The pain is too much to handle
Yet I walk to your door
Yet I walk to your door

It hurts me when I’m around you
Yet I look in your eyes
It kills to know I can’t have you
You make me want to die
You make me want to die

Summer time, I’ll tell you lies
I’ll never say goodbye
Loving you is hard to do
But I’m willing to try
It hurts, but I’m alive

You’re there for me when I’m lonely
Yet I still feel alone
Who said that this would be easy?
Just give a dog a bone...

When I’m with you I start shakin’
Can’t you keep my heart from breakin’
You make me want to hurt you
Just to see if you’re still human
All this time I thought I’ve wasted
I’m so close, yeah, I could taste it
Just give me one good reason
why I should even stay then...
Track Name: Tales From The Black Cloud
Lock the door and let me suffer ’til tomorrow
You know life’s a joke. It’s only borrowed time
Leave me stranded in the waves of mutual sorrow
It’s just absolution for our earthly crimes

Empathy can’t save me
Happiness betrayed me
I can’t remember who I was
I don’t believe in who I am
So where do I go from here?

I’d like to know your definition of a saint
Is he one who flatters you until he dies?
A pretty face to help you cope with your dark feelings
He’ll deceive you with his sympathetic lies

I can’t remember your fears ‘cuz everyone’s suffering here
Oh, everyone’s suffering here
And I’m trying to find a way home
But it’s so hard when the past never leaves you alone

Tragic girl, there’s no one left here to protect you
Was it smart to push away the ones you loved?
Take me back, but I won’t hear you, I won’t listen
As you cry I’ll turn and say “I’ve had enough”

And as I wake up thrashing, smashing every bone in my head
I’ve lost so much of myself waving my flag for you
That’s my mistake
Realizing the past is all you live for is something that I cannot take
I won’t be with one who can’t move on

I’ll throw my weapons down for you
I’ll throw my weapons down for you
A game that’s not worth playing
A love that’s not worth saving
I’ll throw my weapons down for you

A voice of reason tells me things will all work out
But it’s too late
I’m too occupied defending what’s left of myself that I don’t hate Knowingly destroying what we have

I won’t be breaking down for you
I won’t be breaking down for you
A game that’s not worth playing
A love that’s far from saving
I won’t be breaking down for you
Track Name: A Day In The Life of Danny Pink
One day I was so depressed I couldn’t even speak
No one asked me how I was so I disappeared for weeks

She said, “No I’m never gonna leave you.
I’m never gonna go
No I’m never gonna leave you.”
But she still left me alone.

Monday nights when I’d come home I’d usually write a song
Lying ‘bout the things we did and how we get along

I don’t know what I’m feeling, I only know that it’s for you
Noting the reactions even though they are subdued
If you’re still hung up on him you’ll never know
What you’re hiding when your feelings start to show

Sometimes I’d look back on all the things I did for you
Overcome with anger by the things you put me through

You said, "No I'm never gonna leave you..."
Track Name: Can We Be Depressed Together?
Can we be depressed together?
I don't think I can take this pain alone
With you, I had a friend
But I failed you once again
Is this how it always ends?
With self-hatred, guilt, and paranoia

Can we be in love together?
Is it really that hard to comprehend?
We've invested so much time,
exploring each other's minds,
analyzing what we'd find,
and concluding that we're both the same

Somewhere along the line we drifted apart
I still don't know what I did
I wish you'd tell me
Because I'm tired of sitting here
Like your sister on a bad day.

Because I'm tired of waiting here...

Can we be psychotic together?
I don't think it's too late to crack a smile
With you, I had a friend
But I failed you once again
Is this how it always ends?
With self-hatred, guilt, and paranoia
Track Name: Early Morning Tragedy
I used to think I was something
I used to think that I had it all
I used to think I had talent
I never envied The Patriarch

Until I lost you in the fire
I couldn't control my desires

You were my best friend
You were my twin
Was it a mistake to fall in love?
With your support, I was everything
Was it that I was just not enough?

It hurts to lose you in the fire
I couldn't control my desires

Sing the songs in your head
that we wrote when you said,
"Let's try new things. No one will listen.
Let's just do this for ourselves."
It's so hard to move on
I'll be empty when you're gone
Death to me is so much easier
Than pretending nothing's wrong

I think I ruined the fantasy
Seeing how real you are breaks my heart
I miss the times when you were a dream
Am I just trying to tear us apart?

I never believed in The Martyr
That died for your sins
Why should I bother?

I'm so afraid that this was a waste
Three years of my life went down the drain
You couldn't even give me a taste
Just lead me on 'til I went insane

I still think you're the one who could save me
It just hurts that you chose to betray me
Track Name: Familial Regress
I'm trying to keep myself together
So I don't give in to depression's hunger
I'm trying to keep myself together
I used to hurt myself when I was younger

I'm trying to keep myself together
But it's so hard when you're not in control
I'm trying to keep myself together
I wanna reach you but I can't let go

Now you're depressed and I'm your second man at best
I've ignored your suffering and left your heart a mess
Now I'm alone and my mom, well, she left home
She broke up this family and turned my heart to stone

I'm trying to keep myself together
Not for my mother, but for me and you
I've got to keep myself together
'cause you're the only one I'd hate to lose

How can she keep herself together?
She was my hero, now she's just a crone
I'm trying to keep myself together
But it's so hard when you feel all alone

I can't turn back
All that joy was in the past
Erase all my memories
I knew they wouldn't last
But I've still got you
And I know that you'll stay true
Oh Juliette, there's so much that we've both been through

Can't stand to think of her dating some other man
If she finds someone else, he won't be my stepdad
She lives in fantasy, neglected our dreams
A perfect family? Well I guess things aren't what they seem

Please believe me when I say she’s the one we ought to blame
She really needs to find herself?
I say she needs to get some help
I’ll never come home. She won, I suppose
What’s the point of showing love when all I end up is alone?

I guess I’m fine when I’m with you
Oh Jules, you know just what to do
when I feel worthless or when I feel I just can’t go on
You know, I’ve got to fight. I’ve got to live.
I’ve got to learn how to forgive
But it’s so hard when all the things around you crash and burn

I’ve gotta keep myself together
I’ve gotta stabilize my mental state
I tried to keep it all together
But it’s so pointless to propitiate

I’ve gotta keep myself together...
Track Name: Ode To Insecurity
This may sound bizarre, but I’m still here because of you
So don’t turn me into a joke for your need to be amused
My mind is never free. I’m always trapped inside my head
I need your help to get me out, but you’re too busy with the dead
It’s something I just never figured out
So I’m just wondering...

Why do you hurt me the way that you do?

Look, you’re still my favorite artist, but there’s these demons in my head That try to destroy everything and leave us hanging by a thread
I want to know your fears, so I can turn them into art
And maybe you won’t be afraid of all the feelings in your heart
It’s something you and I could talk about
So won’t you tell me...

Why do you hurt me the way that you do?
Oh, why do you hurt me the way that you do?
The silent treatment burns more than being locked in a brazen bull
Oh why do you hurt me the way that you do?

I sit around and wonder if you think of me
I think of all the times we tried to make believe
I wave the flag and let you slay me
A silent death as you betray me
I wonder if you know what you’re doing

I’m all alone in my room with my flask and I just need you here...
Track Name: L'appel du Vide
What ever to happiness?
We used to be so close, you and I
Now we’ve become strangers trying to survive
I don’t know what to do
It’s so hard to talk to you
I just want some answers, or half the truth

Count me out
I can’t move on without you near
This bitter life and all the fear that comes with it
It’s so crippling

My friends, they try to help
Sometimes they make things worse
I thought I said, “Don’t leave me alone”
I feel like a charity case
Nobody takes me out
For fear that I’d poison the air

These years of giving love
And not getting any back
It’s finally driven me off the edge
Track Name: Patience and Ego in the Backyard
Please tell me your story
You never really tell me how you feel
I’m tired of second guessing
Every time my heart begins to heal...

How can I get you alone without them lingering around us?
Don’t they have somewhere they have to be?
They seem so boring to me
Though I enjoy the times we spend together, I want more
So won’t you put your arms around me?
Tell me you’ll surround me with your love

I remember crying on your shoulder
Was that real?
Something tells me I am on the verge of dying
I can’t feel

How could I know what love is when my mother taught me wrong?
She hid so many secrets from me
Destroyed my childhood memories
I guess I’m saying that you and I,
We both could learn together
Make mistakes, have fights, then make up
Save me from my mother’s tainted love

I’m so grateful for your patience
Though I’m hopeless, you still stick around
I want to tell you everything about me
Please don’t say that I’m a burden
Please don’t look at me as "just a friend"
I want to tell you everything about me
Every flaw and every mistake
Every scar and all that is great
You deserve to know the meaning of true love
Track Name: We've Discovered Black Rainbows
I woke up so depressed. It's not fun
And I don't want to hurt anyone
No, I don't want to hurt anyone

It's Monday, I should be excited
'cuz I get to spend all day with you
Except I'm thinking of all the things we'll never do

Juliette, I'm going crazy
And I don't expect you to save me
I just want you to hold me in your arms
Juliette, I feel so damaged
Lost, alone, confused, psychotic
The sickness is a bitch
It's bringing everybody down

There are things I still don't understand
But I still want to be your man
if you could see through all my flaws
It'd be a sin for me to hurt you
So I'll do my best and try to keep you safe (from me)
Forgive me for I'm only a mistake

I sat in my garage with the engine on
thinking, "how long 'til the fumes take effect?"
But I don't want to die, not just yet

You know you have the right to be cross with me
There's no excuse for me to be rude
Especially to someone like you

Juliette, my mind's precarious
That even Alice wouldn't dare look into it
The fact that you've explored me makes my heart explode with happiness
Juliette, I feel so guilty
I don't mean to drag you down with me
You know that you can let go any time you want

There are things about me you should know
I go through highs and many lows
Though I'll stand up on my own feet
I need your help to keep me grounded
So I don't fall back on getting my revenge
So I don't become the monster in your head

I won't forget the things you do for me
You've always been there
hours of conversation in the dark
Juliette, am I a memory that's good?
Do I exist, at least in some form, in your heart?

Don't let me jump off the bridge
Please hand me my medicine
Please hold me when I'm afraid
Don't let me run way

Juliette, I feel determined
to fight the evil that's within me
I think that we'll both get through this
We still have time to make this year a good one