Cloud Nothings' newest album Attack On Memory captures the potency of punk with a more refined, jam aesthetic that feels at times, nearly Hendrix-ian. Gone though, are the lo-fi tendencies that marked 2011's Cloud Nothings. Where that album felt like it could have been a basement recording, generated by a talented up-and-comer, Attack feels like a full embrace of production and a battle cry onto the rock scene. The sound here is full, lush, and ear-fucking in its power. But what remains are the grainy vocals and lost-but-not-directionless lyrics of Dylan Baldi. The changes between the debut and this album are for the most part good ones. Lo-Fi as an aesthetic can only do so much, and it became a band-wagon way of recording in recent years that sometimes gives an impression of artistic spareness, even if the material didn't really warrant it. But, it served Baldi well on those first two releases. On Attack it is somewhat of a mixed bag. The physical, punishing nature of the music, so well mixed, is beautiful, but sometimes feels like a late-'90s power-pop group, especially on "Stay Useless."
The opening track "No Future/No Past" is excellent, but sets a precedent that's different from much of the album. It's a slow, loping, heartfelt track that seems like a funeral march or a stay in Purgatory. Baldi cranks up the power on "Wasted Days" a nearly nine-minute track that breaks down into a brutal, overpowering jam in the final minutes. "Separation" is phenomenal, falling in at track 5. It's a speeding, somewhat Jimmy Eat World-esque song loaded with crashing and splashing cymbals, and a brilliant hook. It also has no lyrics, but doesn't need them because it feels like a sort of impromptu big of rocking out. That gives way to "No Sentiment" a screaming, straining flex of muscle. The somewhat brighter and lighter "Our Plans" follows, again with a perfect hook and a lot of charm. It feels sadness, but sounds like promise, and that's a powerful thing for any song. And the closer, "Cut You" has a similar mellowness that's almost more pleasing. It's a track about worry and the future and what things will be, and our respect for patience and our respect for ourselves. A gorgeous track to close the album, and it's all about fear in regards to love. Listen to Attack On Memory below, or check it out on Spotify here.
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