Cloud Nothings
Attack on Memory


3.0
good

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
January 16th, 2012 | 211 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Like that chill kid you knew who came back from college a philosophy major and a total drag.

Dylan Baldi’s gotta have some set of cojones to sing “no nostalgia, no sentiment/ we’re over it now!” A mission statement like that and a title like Attack On Memory presents the new Cloud Nothings record like an indictment of the very nostalgia-baiting indie rock Baldi was guilty of perpetuating on his band’s summery, eponymous debut. Perhaps the line is a retraction of sorts, but Attack on Memory isn't exactly modern; defined by Steve Albini’s noisy production and Baldi’s sneering punk affect, Attack on Memory is decidedly skuzzy, early-nineties gloom. Maybe you’re not really nostalgia-baiting if you sound gritty instead of pretty?

I think it’s more simple than all this; considering Cloud Nothings’ considerable effort towards sounding jaded, the confrontational album title is most likely an extension of their posturing. On a record of what are mostly well-structured, catchy rock songs, Cloud Nothings do quite a bit to make it sound as if they don’t care, giving their songs aggressively maudlin titles like “No Future/No Past,” “No Sentiment,” and “Cut You” and having Baldi sing with a mildly out-of-place rasp. Albini’s buzz and the put-on sense of hopelessness to the whole thing indicate “grit,” but Cloud Nothings lack the substance to really do dark, and instead rely on Baldi’s affected whines of base-level nihilist platitudes to portray disaffection.

This is something of a shame, because, confused tone aside, Attack on Memory is way more fun than it lets on. Cloud Nothings’ sense of maturity may be confused with unbridled angst, but their ear for dirty hooks is undeniable. As nineties-fetishizing goes, one could do worse than to ape the Pixies and Built to Spill with as much aplomb as Cloud Nothings do here; “No Sentiment” even rips the main riff from “Randy Described Eternity,” which would’ve been cool if it hadn’t been in service of the album’s worst song. It’s clear that Cloud Nothings work most comfortably within traditional pop structures; the proggier sections of Attack like the extended instrumental break of “Wasted Days” will probably get the most critical attention for their ambition, but the album’s stronger tracks are songs like “Stay Useless” and “Cut You,” songs that sound like they were tossed out in a couple hours with the writing governed by intuition instead of ingenuity.

Thus when taking in Attack on Memory as a whole, it sounds as if Cloud Nothings are, despite their best efforts, a pop band at heart. They might misguidedly masquerade as something more “authentic” by hiding behind a bunch of muddy bullshit, but the muddy bullshit is conspicuously calculated, which invalidates its purpose. In other words, they try not to be what they were previously by aping a different, heavier sound, and the resulting record's a hodgepodge. Not to say that I don't think Cloud Nothings could be the kind of band they’re trying to be on songs like “Wasted Days” and “No Sentiment” down the road, but now they sound as if they’re trying to be adults when they’re actually pretty intelligent college-aged kids that just want to rock out. It’d be nice to hear them master that before they grow-up.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2012


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

doin this shit adam thomas style

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

conradtao
Emeritus
January 16th 2012


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What you're referring to as intelligent college kids trying their hand at maturity I hear as intentionally obvious immaturity (like, "I thought I would be more than this" is hardly profound). Which may or may not be better, depending on how you feel about that sort of expression; just a different way of interpreting it. Liked the writeup a lot, though, even if I don't entirely feel the same way.

Urinetrouble
January 16th 2012


5760 Comments


albini production rules, but self titled>this

aok
January 16th 2012


4425 Comments


intentionally obvious immaturity


how can that be a good thing though?

Polymath
January 16th 2012


3836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Although I may disagree, this is a brilliant review. Great job, Downer.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2012


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What you're referring to as intelligent college kids trying their hand at maturity I hear as
intentionally obvious immaturity (like, "I thought I would be more than this" is hardly
profound


what makes lyrics like that, "no future, no past," "no nostalgia, no sentiment, we're over it now!"
come off as blunt stabs at maturity is that they feel transparently jaded, like "fuck, man,
college". either way, doesn't leave much of an impression

conradtao
Emeritus
January 16th 2012


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, I see where you're coming from.

andy – intentional expressions of immaturity can, in some cases, highlight the superficiality of characteristics we've come to associate with "maturity"

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 16th 2012


6448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Man, Wasted Days rules!

Great writeup, though. You're probably right about the whole maturity/immaturity thing/.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

macadoolahicky
January 16th 2012


1835 Comments


Love the summary. May check this out

Eko
January 16th 2012


2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Where is this streaming? I looked last night and couldn't find it.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2012


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nowhere so far as i know

zxlkho
January 16th 2012


3464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is a pretty cool guy.

Adabelle
January 16th 2012


4257 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love the second track sososo much, wasn't even expecting to like this but then it's so good that why not.

letsgofishing
January 16th 2012


902 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“No Sentiment” even rips the main riff from “Randy Described Eternity,”

Holy Shit! I never noticed that..

In love with this album, but this is a fantastic review, and I almost agree with all of it. Problem is all of the muddy bullshit sounds fantastic lol.

Adabelle
January 16th 2012


4257 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ohsnap.

Geist
January 16th 2012


371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great write up. Pos pos pos.

Capablanca
January 16th 2012


207 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think you meant cojones, cajones are just big boxes lol. Other than that, good review.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

robin
Emeritus
January 16th 2012


4248 Comments


hey man philosophy majors aren't drags

Romulus
January 16th 2012


8437 Comments


knew this was you from the summary

jefflebowski
January 16th 2012


8243 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is sounding promising so far, even if the sound is a bit homogenous

Digging: Shellac - Dude Incredible



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