Intensity. That is the first word that comes to mind after a listen to Cloud Nothing’s new work, Attack on Memory. Lead singer and creator of Cloud Nothings, Dylan Baldi, had repeatedly stated in interviews that this album was a far more aggressive piece in comparison to the band’s past two outings. He has also revealed that the title of the new record is a lament to indie’s obsession with “hazy, electronic-y nostalgic music” that Baldi seeks to distance Cloud Nothings from with Memory. Produced by legendary producer Steve Albini, it was still unclear as to what exact sound Attack on Memory would yield. Couple the addition of Albini with the ever-growing buzz surrounding the band, and curiosity had never been higher for a Cloud Nothings release.
Dylan Baldi is one of those vocalists whose delivery is fully and totally driven by the emotion of each lyrical line. Wearing his feelings firmly on his sleeve, he can yell, whisper, or sing harmoniously at any given moment, vocalizing almost solely on pure cathartic instinct. Though unpredictable, his vocals are never jarring, nor do they wear on the listener’s patience. Instead, it is a welcome departure from the muffled, barely audible vocal delivery that appears to have overtaken the indie rock scene as of late.
Opener “No Future/No Past” promptly sets the tone of Attack on Memory. Sounding its arrival with sparse keyboard notes, it becomes an ominous whirlpool that morphs into a full-blown maelstrom by song’s end, consuming and drowning out the desperate yells of Baldi. It is a bold statement for sure, a declaration of the band’s heavier, more aggressive direction.
To be fair, not all of the tracks on this thirty-three minute affair are quite as foreboding or dark. Yet each, beneath their punk-like tenacity and off-the-cuff feel, possess a foreboding energy that percolates just above the surface and tends to eventually erupt into a wall of distortion. Like the conflict present in Baldi’s lyricism, the music attempts to maintain an order and melody throughout, but is eventually overtaken by that constrained, somewhat menacing influence that is ever-present and creeps its way into the foreground in nearly ever song. It is this element and force that ultimately drives the album and makes the record the best of the young new year so far. 8/10
Attack on Memory will be released January 24th on Carpark Records