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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Album of the Week: Cloud Nothings - "Attack on Memory"

Rating: 9.0/10

Packed with Nirvana-twinged indie-punk, Attack on Memory was (and still is) my #1 album of 2012. Band leader Dylan Baldi took the group in a heavier direction than before, as previous releases leaned more towards power-pop than post-hardcore.Songs like the slowly swelling "No Future/No Past" and "No Sentiment" showcase this newly found darkness in Baldi's screams and crunchy guitars.

One high point of this record is the drumming, with the instrumental piece "Separation" a standout. The drumming throughout is frantic, and at times the speed at which they're being  played seems impossible. Though not containing an insanely difficult beat, "Our Plans" utilizes a unique drum pattern to its advantage. The track also includes some of Baldi's most visceral vocals, and an intense instrumental bridge.

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"Wasted Days" is a lengthy nine-minute piece with a grinding guitar riff and restless drum beat. "I thought I would be more than this," shouts Baldi. Exactly three minutes in, the track takes a sharp turn into an experimental instrumental section. Distorted bass and consistent snare hits sit behind an increasingly violent  guitar part. Eventually, the drummer has a bit of a fit, and Baldi returns for one last chorus.

The two best tracks on the album (to me, at least) are easily the third and fourth songs, "Fall In" and "Stay Useless." Along a catchy hook and riveting verses, "Fall In" possesses an excellent instrumental break/guitar solo. If this song doesn't get your blood pumping, I don't know what will. The equally fantastic "Stay Useless" has a Cobain-like lyrical theme ("Can I see what's going with me? I sued to have it all, now I'm alone") and is perfectly crafted. It's Baldi's best work to date as a songwriter, containing a rich melody and excellent instrumental work.

"Cut You" closes out the short, eight-track album on a mellow note rather than an explosive one. Except, the lyrics are anything but mellow. Baldi talks of extreme dependency in a relationship, growling, "I miss you 'cause I like damage, I need something I can hurt." Of course, he doesn't literally mean he wants to hurt the other person, but simply, selfishly, and self-loathingly wants someone else to share his pains.

Attack on Memory is an increasingly rare example of an album that does guitar rock right. Baldi is a young, promising starlet in the indie world, and hopefully he continues to write records just as good as this one. With new material supposedly arriving early next year, the next Cloud Nothings album will be something to look forward to.

Key tracks: "Fall In," "Stay Useless"

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