Review Summary: Like a stale gust of wind.
One could take a title like Attack on Memory
very literally. Along with arguably embracing huffy anxiety more so than any of Dylan Baldi’s prior works, a good majority of that album acted as an outright rejection of most Cloud Nothings tropes that had been established by the time of their sophomore outing. This was an interesting case of immaturity being the thematic focal point of a career-high in musical maturity, so it’s only fitting - if a bit ironic – that the follow-up to Attack on Memory
be quite the opposite. Here and Nowhere Else
considers forward-thinking conceptually, but shows utter resentment towards it musically. It’s no secret that Baldi has a penchant for ‘90s alternative rock, but he’s always weighed in noise rock vitality and indie pop flourishes to keep things potent. Here and Nowhere Else
invests this admiration of lo-fi into something more along the lines of ardent worship in a similar vein to Wavves rather than forging just a love letter.
The fact that this is the fourth album in the Cloud Nothings discography and it purposefully goes out of its way in an attempt to have more fuzzy, lo-fi recording quality than any record preceding it is very forced, and a bit of a gimmick to a certain extent. The distorted riffs and earthy poise that may have been expected by some are both discarded in favor of no surprise replacements on this overly-consistent recreation of alt rock first finding its footing in punk. Bearing that in mind, those familiar with Cloud Nothings will either be disappointed or overjoyed by this direction depending on personal preference, while the casual listener may dismiss this as nothing special in the realm of '90s indie revival. Tonal variety isn’t exactly something to be predicted with production as lo-fi as this, but this used to be a group that proved the sound still capable of having diversity at the very least.
Clocking in at just over thirty minutes, Here and Nowhere Else
is a brisk stride down a path built from nostalgia that fans of an already done-to-death sound will no doubt adore and accept. It’s just a shame that Baldi spent more time paying homage and rebuilding an era with these songs than putting a new or unique spin on a dead-end style, and that as a result, Cloud Nothings seems to be an act that has regressed far enough to craft what sounds like a one-dimensional demo tape for their fourth consecutive studio effort.