Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory

Oddly, it’s an album that allows its listener to enjoy the misery on show.


It’s easy to forget that Cloud Nothings used to be a bedroom project. Dylan Baldi was responsible for each and every strand of instrumentation, every strain of guitar on his opening salvo of songs, from his house in Westlake, Ohio. There are lots of teenagers out there right now who do a similar thing to Baldi but who for the life of them, can’t write a song like ‘Hey Cool Kid’, therefore the chance of them getting picked up by a concert promoter, before eventually recording with one of the world’s most famous producers, are indeed slim.

But there are hundreds of them out there; all sitting at home, strumming a guitar, dreaming to be in Baldi’s current position: Selling records, touring all year with friends, with some critical acclaim to boot. And yet ‘Attack On Memory’, Cloud Nothings’ second record as a full-band, documents the sound of a group of guys (or at least, one guy, their frontman) and a frustration at being misjudged or pigeonholed based on one record. Last year’s self-titled debut had a sewn in winners’ badge, highlighting the group’s ability to pencil in quirky pop-punk songs; devoid of meaning but all the more enjoyable. This reputation visibly aggrieved Baldi. The album itself was good, but it wasn’t career-defining. And judging by the lyrical content and sheer, genuine angst circuiting the bloodstream of ‘Attack On Memory’, that will come as some relief to hear. In actual fact, this follow-up work of pent-up aggression; of complete contrast to snappy pop-punk; has every chance of becoming the band’s seminal work.

Or at the very least, it’s the sound of a band turning a corner and seeing a street paved with gold. Baldi and co. have tapped in to a sound that suits them best. Unlike its predecessor, it’s an album that carries a tendency to leave its listener speechless. Any close friend who excitably brings this album up in conversation will choose first to tell you about ‘Wasted Days’, a song clocking in at 8 minutes, 53 seconds; its length defined by a frightening build-up of complete unadulterated anger. As mantras go, the song’s repeated cry of “I thought/ I would/ be more/ than this” is far from sing-along, more ‘shout and pump-your-chest’ along.

Much of ‘Attack On Memory’ follows a similar tact. The major chord structures of ‘Fall In’ and ‘Stay Useless’ might appear to the naked ear as some suitable follow up to the last record, but in actual fact they come across like snarky renditions of their forefathers; the cheerfulness of the melody is applied as an ironic contrast to the lyrics resting inside. The further the album progresses, the darker and more obviously riled it becomes. ‘No Sentiment’ is all snarling vocals close to resembling pre-mammalian scream, ‘Our Plans’ is down-right miserable and ‘Cut You’ is the crowning glory in all of the desolation.

Oddly, it’s an album that allows its listener to enjoy the misery on show. Unlike most dark concepts which tend to wilfully bring you down to its emotional low, each in-ear tantrum acts a prompt for you to lose your shit and throw stuff around the room; more out of gratification than depression. Much to Baldi’s presumed discontent, Cloud Nothings have inadvertently continued a formula of making albums for youngsters to dance to. Only this time round, they’re also showcasing genuine desire and emotion; a clear aim of staying in this music-making circus for the long run. And it’s for everyone to see: The bedroom producer is close to becoming an idolised rock-star.

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