Lavin Rant: Cloud Nothings


by Mike Lavin

On Cleveland indie rock now turned post-hardcore outfit Cloud Nothings’ third release Attack On Memory is a complete 180 on the hook-filled, lo-fi tunes of last year’s somewhat forgettable self-titled sophomore LP. Attack On Memory is a breathless and exciting flurry of noises and clever production never thought to be crafted by the lo-fi cliche-following outfit of Cloud Nothings.

“I thought I would be more than this,” screams lead vocalist Dylan Baldi on the epic climax of easily the highlight of Attack On Memory “Wasted Days” with its pumping bass line, savory guitar melodies, and simple-yet effect punk drumming. Baldi has gone a long way from recording music on his laptop as a side project and to simply entertain himself in between classes to creating highly produced post-hardcore. “No Future/No Past”, the intro track, is another true highlight with its menacing build-up of Baldi’s haunting line of “Give up/Come to know/We’re through.”

Unfortunately, the first tracks really define the entire album. After the monumental “Wasted Days” comes the pop-punk anthem “Fall In” with all its disastrous, barren songwriting. When the pop-punk mood enters in on Attack On Memory, losing interest in the whole LP is easy to do. Though they aren’t bad songs, they simply don’t live up to the standards that the first two tracks really imprinted. The only track that goes back to the more interesting feel of menacing guitars and throat scratching vocals is “No Sentiment.” Cloud Nothing’s ability to reminisce of ’90s dark post-hardcore like Slint or Fugazi is uncanny and should have been the main focus of Attack On Memory, not these pseudo-pop-punk anthems like “Stay Useless” or “Cut You.”

Perhaps the title “Attack On Memory” is appropriate; the first two tracks live back in the post-hardcore days of the ’90s, but goes back to the ’90s pop-punk in the middle to last stages of the album to confuse you and make it an “attack on memory.” I’m most likely over thinking it, but maybe Attack On Memory is just a pure homage to ’90s punk in general, so you have to span a lot of different genres all along with Baldi’s ear-scratching vocals. Yes, the vocals of Baldi are atrociously bad, but fit with the music. That whinny, earning, attention-seeking voice screams and screams in no reminiscence of last year’s self-titled sophomore album.

“We started a war,” near-whispers Baldi with an intense hatred for whoever is listening to this record on “No Sentiment.” Punk didn’t really start a “war”, but it did start a musical revolution and movement that violent and interesting, and Cloud Nothings does a fairly decent job at attempting to reprint this story and sound. Perhaps Baldi’s next excursion into the punk realm with reveal something entirely new to the genre. The self-titled sophomore album was a flop, Attack On Memory was a much more self-assuring record for Cloud Nothings with going back to their roots and loves of music.