Cloud Nothings
The Shadow I Remember


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 28th, 2021 | 58 replies


Release Date: 02/26/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Punk is alive and well

The spirit of punk isn't something I ever think about. Like any genre, I usually break punk down to its Xs and Os - what it should sound like based upon the cumulative resume of all the bands that occupy it. Cloud Nothings check most of those boxes, from the uptempo guitars to the pitchy vocals, but there's something seemingly intangible about them that has always helped them float above their peers. It was listening to The Shadow I Remember that elucidated that mystery for me: they play to the spirit of punk. A genre founded on the concept of pissing all over the norm has too often become about copying each other's faux-defiance, whereas Cloud Nothings have always defied convention without needing a chip on their shoulders about society, man. With The Shadow I Remember, Cloud Nothings once again find themselves pushing the boundaries of punk-rock while offering zero apologies for doing so, and it's a glorious burden lifted.

I say once again because Life Without Sound and The Black Hole Understands saw the band succumb to the temptation of creating sparkly lo-fi indie-pop. They weren't poor records by any means - and they were even quite catchy at times - but all of the guts, spine, and ambition that made Attack on Memory a genre cornerstone back in 2012 were neutered. From the moment The Shadow I Remember begins, it's clear that Cloud Nothings are back on track. It's not because they mirror the breakneck pace and reckless abandon of their former selves, but because they combine that no-holds-barred attitude with a wealth of experience and an updated perspective on life. Lyrically they confront adulthood and their inevitable mortality, while musically they are able to extract the best aspects of their earlier output (the wiry, unpredictable riffs and wild percussion) and fuse it with the more tangible songwriting and the stronger melodic hooks of their latter years. It's simultaneously a dip into their past and push forward in the right direction.

The best examples of this occur early and often: Oslo's anxiety-inducing waning minutes (existential lyrics, shrill electric guitars gradually climbing in pitch), how Dylan Baldi sounds half a beer away from passing out in a bar alley - or possessing Patrick Stickles - on The Spirit Of, or the way in which Baldi's dulled and disinterested approach to singing the catchiest chorus on the record (Only Light) makes it even more endearing and addicting. The best thing about The Shadow I Remember is that it doesn't meander through the midsection - sure, I highlighted a few key cuts - but the entirety of the album is essentially devoid of filler and therefore unskippable. A Longer Moon anchors the back end with some of the best and most enjoyable guitar work you'll hear from any punk rock band in 2021, and it's only a slight notch above what's been happening across the whole record anyway.

The Shadow I Remember puts Cloud Nothings right back where they belong - in the crosshairs of punk and indie-rock fans everywhere. It's a release that sees the band returning to what they do best, but also updating and fine-tuning their craft to reflect how they've matured. Punk as a genre often revolves around youth, rebellion, and politics - but Cloud Nothings are proof that punk is a mindset. The band's latest intersperses melody with mania, and it's a moment of exceptional energy and creativity which should rank near the top of their career achievements to-date. If the fate of punk ends up being left in the hands of Cloud Nothings, then it is indeed alive and well.



Recent reviews by this author
Greta Van Fleet The Battle at Garden's GateSheep, Dog and Wolf Two Minds
Kishi Bashi Emigrant Domestic Terminal I Could See Midnight Sky
Leon III Antlers in VelvetThe Beach Boys The Smile Sessions
user ratings (73)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
February 28th 2021


37164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It was purely by accident that I found time to write a review, so don't expect it again for a while.

This is, uhh, good - listen to it.

Digging: Greta Van Fleet - The Battle at Garden's Gate

Musefan58867
February 28th 2021


81 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You're goddamn right it's good. I think I prefer the raw edge of Last Building Burning, but this is still an awesome record and it's good to see this site give their new one some love after everybody's reaction to the singles.

Digging: The Armed - Ultrapop

Gyromania
February 28th 2021


32275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very nice, Sowing. I'm excited to hear this. Haven't listened to these guys since here and nowhere else

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


34929 Comments


woah, Sowing review?! been a while, nice nice

I think I half checked one of these guys' first albums at a bad moment and didn't vibe with it; is effectively starting with this one acceptable?

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 28th 2021


37164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

People were complaining about the singles? I didn't know that, and I loved them. It was half the reason I gave this a shot.

I don't think this is the best place to start (maybe Attack on Memory?), but it's certainly not the wrong place to start either. It combines a lot of their best traits (melody vs recklessness) without totally losing either side whereas a lot of their previous works only seem to offer one or the other.

Musefan58867
February 28th 2021


81 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

At least here, people really were not keen on the delivery on Am I Something, definitely took me a minute before I got behind them completely and I love Baldi's harsh vocals.



I'd say Here and Nowhere Else might actually be a better place to start with these guys than Attack on Memory. I think the mixing and overall sound of that record gives a better idea of them as a band than Attack, but that might just be me.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


24228 Comments


I had almost given up on these guys as of lately but they still have one of the best drummers in the business. Gonna give this a shot. Nice to see you reviewing Sow, accident or not.

Digging: Spectral Wound - A Diabolic Thirst

AxeToFall93
February 28th 2021


290 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Stellar review, really, really love this band and everything they've done (especially their more pop influenced stuff) and this is no exception.

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


13981 Comments


I haven't heard a single second of this but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't drawn to that artwork. There's something completely humble about it, it appeals to me.

Digging: Esoctrilihum - Dy'th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath

anatelier
February 28th 2021


4062 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i'm so up and down with this band. really feels like they have a good-meh-good album cycle for my tastes, and what made them once special is starting to wane

Digging: Feu! Chatterton - Palais d'Argile

DoofDoof
February 28th 2021


9194 Comments


this sounded a bit better produced and more 'cared for' for lack of a better word than some of their recent ones...but then, the vocals aren't as good as they used to be and the song writing/guitar work is less exciting too.

Their peak was definitely 'Attack on Memory' and 'Here and Nowhere Else'

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 28th 2021


34929 Comments


I think it was you who rec'd me Attack on Memory (which imma jam imminently) all that time ago

AxeToFall93
February 28th 2021


290 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really hoped they would dive deeper in the pop category of "Life Without Sound", such an incredible underrated record.



But this is also pretty solid, just want to see them live again.

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2021


2202 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really great review, I was on the fence about listening to this one but this convinced me to give it a shot. I've never been huge on the band, but I've found something to enjoy in all the releases I've checked out (both pop and punk sides).

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 28th 2021


37164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Their drummer is certainly top tier for the genre. I agree with everyone who said the band is up-and-down; I think this may actually represent their most comprehensive work because of its versatility. It works as a rambunctious punk offering (at least in places) without sacrificing the hooks that fans of Life Without Sound loved. It just feels like melodic punk-rock executed very, very well.

sixdegrees
February 28th 2021


11161 Comments


beige

ieatbabies795
February 28th 2021


796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I wasnt optimistic after Black Hole Understands but this review changes that. Gonna check it out later

Digging: KANGA - You And I Will Never Die

someone
February 28th 2021


2787 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

yeah right, like they've suddenly turned good again

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 28th 2021


37164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

probably not

I just like bad music

Snake.
February 28th 2021


22817 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

five albums in five years damn they're on a roll



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy