Review Summary: Messy, frantic, and jarring, with enough catchy hooks to attract a wide audience
"Attack on Memory" was an album I found completely infectious upon first listening to it late last year (it was released in early 2012 but it took me a long time to actually give it a shot). I didn't know when indie-pop-turned-punk-rock trio Cloud Nothings were going to release a successor to it, but I knew I had high hopes for it. Luckily, I didn't have to wait too long because on April 1, they released the much-anticipated follow-up "Here and Nowhere Else." It's almost comical the degree to which front man Dylan Baldi seems unable to construct a catchy, infectious pop hook, no matter how much he cloaks it with a loud, growling punk sound. He has distanced himself from his true debut as Cloud Nothings, which showed the band as an indistinguishable dreamy pop group bathed in reverb and effects a la Wavves. This inability is not a drawback, however, and gives Cloud Nothings an enjoyable pop-punk feel (without being too whiny or irritating as is the trend with most other bands in that vein). Sure, "Here and Nowhere Else" isn't as clean-cut as its predecessor, but that doesn't negatively affect it, and the album is as gripping and thrashing as anything the band has done. There are the hits and there are the misses, but cohesively, the 2014 follow-up to "Attack on Memory" is a worthwhile listen, and a hell of a ride.
The first single released from the LP is 'I'm Not Part of Me,' which I fell in love with immediately. Its gorgeously melancholic guitars and angst-ridden lyrics set the stage for a darker feel this go round, but, as previously stated, still maintains an accessible poppy sensibility. On the exterior, these songs may seem like companions to drunk fistfights and to sweaty, long-haired kids beating away at their instruments in their parents' garage. Their connection to grunge gives the feeling of a youthful, uncaring vibe. Looking into the lyrics of the music and just what Baldi is singing about, however, reveals an impressively direct lines dealing with such topics as mental illness, heartbreak, and emotional instability. They're not nostalgic; they're in the moment. He's not longing for his youthful days, he's experiencing them, and all the pain that comes with them. Confusion and self-consciousness abound in poetic verses that are only enhanced by the melancholy evident in the instrumentation on the album.
Loud, frantic, and (too) short, "Here and Nowhere Else" is an exceptional record to follow-up the exceptional "Attack on Memory." It's angsty and angry, but there's also the sense that nothing really matters anyway. Sonically, it's a mad frenzy of screaming, pounding, and shredding, but still manages to be accessible for a large crowd due to its (dare I say it) radio-friendly hooks and pop sensibilities. Lyrically, it's surprisingly thorough and touches on ideas that are difficult for many to deal with. It's punk executed at its most sharp and damning. These guys have cemented themselves as crucial members of the scene with this album, and it's exciting to think what they will do next. However, before getting to excited for the future, it's important to remember to live in the moment as well...