Cloud Nothings is a project that has been making quite a name for itself in the past year. The brainchild of Cleveland native Dylan Baldi, the project has been putting out fuzzy lo-fi pop-punk for a couple of years already. After signing to Carpark Records, Baldi put out a self-titled record, which gained him more attention. However the record failed to really make an impression due to its lack of memorable songs and its tendency to blend them together. Now less than a year after the release of Cloud Nothings, Baldi has returned with his Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, PJ Harvey) produced third full-length, Attack on Memory, which thankfully manages to fix most of the issues that its predecessor faced by adding some variety and some catchier tunes.
Right from the get-go we see Cloud Nothings is trying something different. The first two tracks, “No Future/No Past” and “Wasted Days,” are slow-builders that have more to do with post-hardcore than garage rock. The nine-minute long “Wasted Days” is particularly engaging as the jam-like guitar lines keep you interested. The drums play their role as well, constantly pounding. Baldi’s vocals also shine as he repeats “I thought I would be more than this.”
After the first two tracks there is a sudden change of direction. The record gets catchier and bouncier but manages to stay just as angsty. First single “Stay Useless” is one of the most memorable tunes on Attack on Memory. Its tremendous hook, “I need time to stop moving/I need time to stay useless” should have no problem wedging itself in your mind.
The last two tracks on the record, “Our Plans” and “Cut You,” mix the catchiness of “Stay Useless” with the darkness of “Wasted Days.” The rolling drums in “Our Plans” perfectly complement the melancholy guitar lines, which perfectly complement Baldi’s agony-filled vocals. “Cut You” is arguably one of the biggest highlights on the record. The miserable guitar chords that open the track tell you this won’t be a happy one. Yet Baldi is still able to add a hook in there, with his uncomfortable lines about a broken romance (“I miss you cause I like damage/I need something I can hurt”).
While Attack on Memory does have its memorable tracks, it also has a couple that just don’t shine very brightly. The third track “Fall In” is somewhat bland and is almost identical to early The Get Up Kids material. The instrumental “Separation” is interesting at times, but overall seems like the remnants of a much bigger idea.
The Cloud Nothings project really has improved since its first two records. The music on Attack on Memory should be enough to gain Baldi much respect as a musician. The variety and lasting value of the tracks on the record finally make the band stand out. While some of the tracks may fall flat, the ones that shine are top-notch and deserve several listens.