Music Reviews
Attack on Memory

Cloud Nothings Attack on Memory

(Carpark/Wichita) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

They say there’s no use in holding on to the past. The reason why the everyday counsellor supports this reflection is because, naturally, we’re trained to believe that time heals wounds. In no-nonsense terms, it will vanish from memory soon enough. But really, the mental faculty of remembering past thoughts is what triggers a series of potentially adverse emotions. Dylan Baldi, the brainchild behind Cloud Nothings, has adapted an interesting approach to channel his anger against those who shun his songwriting abilities – by attacking our listening habits, attacking how we define what he hear and, ultimately, attacking himself.

It takes a lot of malice to want to prove everyone wrong, which could explain why Baldi quite literally wants to make music that sounds heady and defiant. All this newfound aggression boiling inside Baldi’s new batch of songs points towards a change of direction; an urgent need to prove Cloud Nothings will continue to surprise and challenge expectations. A testament to the power of the hook, Baldi went from lo-fi hobbyist turned college dropout to indie pop savior in two years’ time, a dramatic succession that can confound anyone barely on the threshold of something new. Exhausting every conceivable hook in the pop depository means you’ll eventually encounter a brick wall, so why not demolish it instead of trying to find a way around it?

Opener No Future/No Past promptly presents that instinctual furor, with a despondent Baldi snarling the song title with a series of austere, intertwined guitar parts that would suitably find their place in a Drive Like Jehu track. That cold, calamitous sense of void trickles down Baldi’s throat in the seething No Sentiment, in which Baldi boldly whirls a slushy, Sabbath-y crunch that echoes the winding chords of Ted Falconi. All this angst would posit that Bandi is playing with irony, but once again, he’s decided to turn the effects knob to renounce any temptation of ever trying another pungent hook or minor key chord.

Most of Attack on Memory has an abrasive, shrewd backbone, but it’s those moments where Baldi hones his sweet touch where the album finds a satisfying balance of surprise and comfort. Stay Useless and Fall In follow that sleek, emo-riddled template found in their self-titled long player – they’re both kinetic and tuneful, crossing off any overbearing angularity in favour of leaving the melodies enough air to breathe. While Baldi tries his hand at being more menacing for the sake of evolving, the galloping punk found in closing tracks Our Plans and Cut You really manifest an uncontested level of maturity – the former is especially stimulating (if not the best song Baldi has ever written), in which Albini’s rough, yet immaculate production style benefits the complexity at hand. And yet it’s so simple – Baldi’s acrimonious yelp stays in control throughout, letting the undulating bass line, sharp drum fills, and cyclical guitars lead the show.

Since it was announced, Attack on Memory came attached with an aforethought warning label proclaiming its antagonistic brusqueness without even introducing a single note. The move itself doesn’t really correlate with Baldi’s artistic outlook on Memory, and the initial reaction to it will cause, and possibly reinforce, the same amount of cataloging Baldi doesn’t want people to associate Cloud Nothings as. It’s not either a dark or bubbly record, but rather an assemblage of influences cobbled into plaintive anthems illustrating the inquietude and distress of Baldi’s perturbed psyche. It’s another small leap for the compassionate angster, whose brief records always feature a number of delightful three-chord modern punk tunes. He's accomplished the melodic imperatives in pop songcraft; before he cranks a new one in six month's time, now it's time to attack the album format with more deliberation.