Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

Rating: ★★★★☆

Dylan Baldi is hot right now, there’s no mistake about it.  Ever since releasing the self-titled Cloud Nothings album, his star has continued to rise, and deservedly so.  Now, his band returns with their latest album, Attack on Memory, determined to shift gears a little bit by going into the studio with the heralded Steve Albini.  The collaboration definitely alters the group’s sound, yet through it all we’re watching the evolution of a talented band.

Immediately upon hearing the first track, “No Future/No Past,” you’ll realize there’s a drastic change in the overall sound.  Where the band was once brash and pummeling, you find them here in a more brooding state, building the listener towards the emotional release of the song.  What’s great about the track is that you can feel it coming, you’re just not sure when that moment will come to fruition.  Rest assured, the time will come.  And from there you blast off into what is probably the most dynamic track on Attack on Memory, “Wasted Days.”  For a brief moment, it seems as if a more hammering approach to the stylings of Cloud Nothings has evolved, but as the song is well over 8 minutes, one can’t hope to hold that ferocious energy for too long.  And they don’t, offering up some jammy post-punk moments that wear a little bit towards the end.

Still, despite the altered sound on the record, there remains that knack for creating a sharp-edged hook that really captures listeners, such as the opening “fall in, fall in” line that comes with “Fall In.”  Okay, so perhaps it’s redundant a bit, but the drumming and Baldi’s voice are sufficient in carrying out the immense pleasure in this number.  “Stay Useless” offers up a more mature sound overall, though it definitely harkens back to the prominently more energetic times of early Cloud Nothings. Again, Dylan’s forte seems to be his ability to craft momentary hooks in the midst of a track that do more than enough, even with just brief lyrics like “I need time to stop moving, I need time to stay useless.”

Although the album seems brief, at least in the number of tracks – eight, there’s definitely more attention to detail in the fleshing out of tracks, giving more depth and vibrance to Attack on Memory.  You’ve also have to love the slight alterations that really craft beautiful moments like the album’s closer,  “Cut You.”  This song definitely lives somewhere in the post-grunge workings of 90s indie rock, and yet the group sounds refreshing, perhaps because of all the work they’ve put in leading up to this track. It might be the unassuming best track on the album.

For all the hubbub surrounding the usage of Albini and crafting a record around the influences on Cloud Nothings, they’ve really crafted a record that makes them seem a bit louder, a bit more thoughtful, and every bit themselves.  It’s difficult to live up the expectations of the masses, especially when you’ve risen to popularity so quickly, but Attack on Memory serves notice that the group is growing in confidence, both in sound and personality; we’re all better off for it.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/01_No_Future_No_Past.mp3]

Download:Cloud Nothings – No Future No Past [MP3]

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