Review Summary: You're a part of me
As if in direct response to the inoffensive, pretty
indie rock which dominates airtime and passes as rock music on nights out, artists like Japandroids, Ty Segall and Titus Andronicus have purposefully been dressing up their albums in gritty, sweaty outfits. They are still capable of delivering big, memorable choruses if they wish, but they do so without the squeaky clean production or the forgettable verses which their easily digestible peers rely on. Ohio’s Cloud Nothings follow this increasingly familiar blueprint, and their sound hinges on typically lo-fi production, heavily distorted guitars, and screeching centrepiece Dylan Baldi.
Here and Nowhere Else
sees Cloud Nothings abandon the occasional self loathing which was evident on predecessor Attack on Memory
. There’s nothing nearly as dispirited and defeatist as “No Future/No Past” here, and there’s a real sense that Baldi has gone from inwardly reflecting his anger to cathartically yelling about his problems - and Here and Nowhere Else
is all the better for it. The nasal edge which accompanied Baldi’s voice on Attack on Memory
has dissipated, and it has been replaced by hoarse screams which compliment the heated, purgative approach he takes.
If deep, meaningful lyrics are what scratches your musical itch, then you’re likely to be disappointed by those shouted by Dylan Baldi, as by his own admission he simply doesn't care about them. As a result the meanings behind the songs rarely delve below what’s obvious on face value, which for the most part, concerns whatever Baldi happens to be pissed about that day. Despite the fact that they’re largely uninspired the ferocity with which they’re delivered is infectious, and after a few listens you might even find yourself reciprocating, because hey, you get pissed at stuff
sometimes too – just wait until you catch yourself shouting the end of “Giving Into Seeing” back at him. The lo-fi romp which surrounds the lyrics doesn’t judge them for their lack of depth, and most of the time they’re obscured between a crushing riff and an indecipherable yell anyway.
And the riffs here are
huge, and the yells are
plentiful, and they’re a large part of what makes Here and Nowhere Else
so brilliant. The album bounds from track to track with unwavering ferocity, and though the first 40 seconds of “Psychic Trauma” do lure you into believing otherwise, feral screams at the song’s end quickly restore normality. The memorable riffs are so commonplace that examples can be plucked from virtually any moment from any of the eight tracks, and the frantic intro of “No Thoughts” and opening chords of “Now Hear In” are as energetic as they are typical.
The most obvious criticism that can be levelled at Here and Nowhere Else
is its short running time. Although Dylan Baldi claims that “You gotta stop at eight, because the ninth track just sounds the same,” it perhaps hints at a lack of ambition or an inability to deviate from their relatively limited formula, and without extended jam “Pattern Walks” the album could be comfortably absorbed in half an hour. This does however mean that your favourite cuts are never too far away, and coupled with Baldi’s highly charged delivery and the frenetic instrumentation, Here and Nowhere Else
succeeds in being their most satisfying listen to date.