Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory (Carpark)
By Scott Creney
I’ve got a friend who thinks this band is just another bunch of indie marketing majors about to make good — a former lo-fi Wavves-type guy moving on to a bigger, rockier Steve Albini production the same way a kid at the mall graduates from Hollister to Abercrombie. But I don’t know — the anger on this album feels pretty real and palpable to me.
‘No Sentiment’ is a pretty intriguing blend of melody and sludge. The way the verse slides into the poppy chorus is damn near brilliant.
‘Wasted Days’ starts off like the latest Real Estate and proceeds to get more and more pissed off as its nine minutes progress. Halfway through, the singer abandons words and the band takes off on a furious three-minute run of reverbed wah-wah and a motorik beat that keeps getting more and more intense, like a skinny tousle-haired version of Can. When he comes back in, it’s to shriek ‘I thought I would be more than this’ for over a minute, until the air in his lungs has been replaced with blood.
I’ve been ranting a lot on CB lately about the smug complacency of most indie bands, their polished politeness, their endless smiling and the way they’re always so cloying and eager to please — what I perceive as their safe and dull cowardice as artists. Attack On Memory is a step away from all that, a bold step into darkness. Frontman Dylan Baldi shows a willingness to scream himself into oblivion, a desire to pursue his thoughts down any nihilistic corner that is downright refreshing.
The scream is a higher-pitched, more boyish Cobain, a cleaner, Slint-ier version of Kitchen’s Floor.
And it’s a good thing he screams so much, because his singing voice on ‘Fall In’ sounds a hell of a lot like Billie Joe Armstrong. And he sounds way too much like the dude from The Decemberists on ‘Cut You’.
The lyrics are, for better or worse, little more than diary entries. If you’re looking for weaknesses, you can start there.
You hope a band continues to grow. You hope they are able to transform the uniqueness of their experiences — the traveling, the strangeness, the constant encounters with new people — into a music that is possessed by startling insights and breathtaking perspective on what it means to be alive. Here’s hoping Cloud Nothings doesn’t end up like most of their peers — gone lazy with success, buoyed by the false confidence that comes from playing in front of packed audiences every night, distracted from their art by easy access to drugs and sex — before they make a truly great album. This band is capable of making an album that blows every other contender away, but this isn’t it. If you see Dylan Baldi, give him some weird books and movies and a couple of blank notebooks. He’s got some more work to do.