Adam Mah — The Cloud EP (7/14/20)

Vancouver artist Adam Mah caught my attention this summer with the release of his debut EP.

There’s an immersive quality to the thick synth-pop songs and an overall dreaminess within the expansive atmospheres. The synths tend to ooze through the speakers, and Adam’s somewhat solemn vocals have a fullness to them that really helps pull the melodies along.

The songs dance between driven electro-pop and stargazing ambiance. The title track overflows with swooping synth arpeggios and vibrant textures that gently tear apart for an immense amount of feeling. The “cloud” refers to the online data storing and sharing centers available to us and the song wonderfully captures the hazy state of one’s mind under the internet’s grasp.

Opening track “The Crown” is an empowering pop song that shows Adam’s ear for a strong melody. It pushes near 5-minutes because Adam likes to take his time in building a certain atmosphere. He eases into the song singing the refrain slowly over a gentle ambiance before the rap-sung verse kicks in at 50 seconds.

The near-40-second bridge removes the beat again for more ambient textures that really slow the song down on its approach to the final hook. These more ambient, floating segments of the song are part of what makes the song his own and I don’t want to take away from that. I just think the song has the most potential for a radio single and I think it would benefit from a radio edit that shaves off about a minute.

There is a contender for that radio single though and that is “Shadows.” Fellow Vancouver artist ROYAL shares vocal duties on the spacious slow melody and brings an added lightness to the performance. The production is tremendously pleasing (Adam worked with long-time collaborator Shane Stephenson) and the song fades to an end with a gorgeous guitar solo.

The EP closes with the heartfelt “A Call Away.” Adam wrote the song in 2016 after having watched a friend of his lose a loved one. It was his first experience with death on a personal level and, as he said in an Instagram post, the song speaks on the feeling of helplessness one feels when there’s just nothing you can do except provide an open ear.

The song eases in with a warm ambiance (the ambiance on this EP is wonderful) before treading slowly on light keys and dashes of guitar. It almost has me thinking it’s going to be a soft send-off to the EP but it surprises me with a rise of energy approaching the final minute. The synths surge to a near-squeal as the drums kick in and lead the EP to a very full close.

With his debut EP, Adam Mah has shown his skill in constructing very digestible melodies and hooks in general, as is shown the best with “Shadows” and “The Crown.” He’s also shown amazing promise in creating vibrant and somewhat otherwordly landscapes within his use of synths, most evident on “The Cloud.” Honestly, the mood he sets up on that song is the highlight of this EP. While the hooks are strong with the previously mentioned, they don’t create quite as unique a feeling as “The Cloud” does.

So, I’m very interested to see what this young artist will come up with next. Thank you, Adam and those involved, for the good tunes. Until next time.