Review Summary: Cloud Nothings have really outdone themselves with this latest record, and there are quite a few reasons why.
I can not recommend this album enough for those who have enjoyed previous work by Baldi and the gang, people who have enjoyed previous Albini produced records (and there have been many,) or someone looking for a record just to vent and bang your head to. One major difference between this LP and previous works by Cloud Nothings is the addition of the rest of the touring band in the recording studio. The result is a record that sounds immediately more like a band, as cliche as it sounds.
As has been mentioned in interviews with the band, the amazing jam that fills in the mid part and end of "Wasted Days" is a feat that was only obtained by the rest of the band playing in the studio as well. Dylan also utilizes the newfound power of the band in his songwriting, with such power behind tracks like No Future/No Past," "No Sentiment," and the previously mentioned "Wasted Days" that it's hard to imagine it's the same man who wrote "Hey Cool Kid" a few years ago. The guys also use their newfound punch to help the poppier songs on the record stick out from most other indie pop and punk. "Fall In" has an amazing hook with driving verses, and "Separation" is one of the best and most entertaining instrumentals I've ever heard from a punk band. The songwriting only lags slightly on the last two track, "Our Plans" and "Cut You," but I still thoroughly enjoy them and have no qualms about singing along with them. The drummer kills pretty much every song, with tons of desperate but powerful parts. The guitars are each individually panned to their own ear, and that really lets them shine, and the picked bass keeps it all together, anchoring the chaotic drums and rushing guitars. I also love Dylan's screams along with his singing voice, though that may turn off some people.
This is clearly an Albini produced album, with the amazing drums sounds and clear instrumentation. The band has stated that he just sat back and let them do their thing, and I think that was another great choice for this record, as the mostly clean guitar and slightly distorted bass sounds used by the band sound amazing without being behind the veil of fuzz on their previous records.
All in all I love this record, and with its amazing songwriting and sound will make it a certainty on my end of year list.