Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

January 01, 1970

(Carpark )


“I thought…I would…be more…than this,” shouts Dylan Baldi towards the
end of the nine minute freakery of “Wasted Days.” It’s like the end of a war,
this last minute of the song. Baldi’s voice is a shredded, disintegrated mess,
splattering bloody polyps of angst, stray spit and undiluted aggression over
the verse. The guitars are just back from an excursion into effects-altered
ecstasies, an extended experiment in chaotic groove and tone. And the drum and
bass player who have held the whole thing together must be exhausted, yet
continue to batter and thump, a pureness of purpose in their clashing, pounding
forward movement.  The whole thing is so
far removed from Baldi’s previous staticky clouds of lo-fi cotton candy that
you have to wonder what happened.  A tour
with Fucked Up might account for the increased aggression, a visit to Steve
Albini’s studio the raw and brutal clarity, yet how Cloud Nothings got here is
still something of a mystery. A year ago, it looked like the band might turn
into the next Real Estate. Now it seems they’re on the way to becoming their
generation’s Nirvana.


Attack on Memory is Cloud
Nothing’s second official full-length, following a self-titled debut in 2011
and, before that, a 2010 odds-and-sods-so-far collection of EP, cassette and
seven inch tracks called Turning On. It
is nothing like either of the two previous recordings. Where before, an aura of
daffy amiability hung over the whole enterprise, now the mood is dark and
desperate. Where in earlier days, a haze of sugar-scented fuzz glued parts
together, now everything is distinct, separate and sharp enough to cut your
fingers on. Where once drum, bass and guitar seemed incidental afterthoughts, a
way of filling out Baldi’s bedroom recorded tunes, now the instruments are
integral, foregrounded, even primary. “Separation” is 100% instrumental.


Not that there isn’t some sweetness left in the Baldi tune factory. “Fall
In” threads an intoxicating bit of close harmony between its spat and sneered
verses, an engaging bit of guitar jangle between its hard-scrubbed, double-time
intervals. Baldi sounds like Billie Jo Armstrong on this one, rough but
melodic, prickly and aggressive and utterly engaging. “Stay Useless,” too, is
scratchy, scruffy and completely accessible, a pop song barricaded with
barbed-wire that nonetheless coaxes you closer.


In fact, the really dark songs are clustered near the front – in the
crushing, dirge-like heaviness of Silkworm-y “No Future/No Past,” and the
bruising, oozing violence of “Wasted Days.” Clear these songs, and the rest
could pass as hard, punchy emo-punk, though with an angular, asymmetrical bent.
There is nothing simple about the way that guitars, drums and bass parts glance
off each other, interacting in off-kilter, diagonal ways that might remind you
of later Fugazi.  


 Cloud Nothings have only been a
band for a couple of years, and they’ve been developing at warp speed the whole
time. No one could have predicted that they’d get to Attack on Memory‘s savage impact so quickly, or indeed, at all. No
telling where they’ll go from here.


DOWNLOAD: “Wasted Days,”
“Fall In,” “Stay Useless” JENNIFER

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