I could structure this piece much like every other has when it comes to musing on the story of Cloud Nothings’ journey up to the present day. You know, like how it started as Dylan Baldi constructing lo-fi pop-rock ditties from his parents’ home at the age of 17 and so forth. And while sure, that’d be a cute angle to kick things off on, I personally happen to be against homogeneity in the media – that and the fact he’s younger than I am with four albums to his name, which makes me pretty envious.
All that one really needs to grasp is the contrast in style and aggression between Cloud Nothings’ early material and that which erupted – to many without hint or invitation – from Attack on Memory onwards. By 2012 the band had suddenly evolved into a propulsive force, creatively blending something quite akin to Pavement-era indie rock with a velocity that was candidly ear-shattering. Much of the change on record was down to their highly revered choice of producer, mind you. Bringing in Steve Albini enabled Baldi to fully realise the next step in how he wanted his bands’ material to be perceived, which was much about translating the thunderous, rasping intensity of their live show onto record; and if there was one person up to the task of achieving just that it was Albini, the man Nirvana drafted for In Utero probably partly to spite their then newly acquired major-label fan base. His credentials (Slint, Neurosis and The Jesus Lizard, to name only a few) were pretty good too, of course.
Two further years on and Cloud Nothings have returned with Here and Nowhere Else, their fourth studio instalment and first since the departure of second guitarist Joe Boyer (the details of which I still don’t believe have been properly explained anywhere in the alternative press). While on paper the loss of a member so vital to the winning appeal of Attack on Memory appears recessive, the further you venture through Here and Nowhere Else the easier it is to assume that actually the elimination was an intentional and strategic move on Baldi’s behalf.
While commentating on his track-by-track guide to the new album with Fake DIY, Baldi remarked that the writing sessions pushed him to “play a little differently” than he had beforehand, having to utilise as much of the fret board as possible to accommodate both high and low tones. The results, of course, are meritorious. Though the majority of the instrumentation was recorded live and in the moment, Baldi’s newfound techniques often fool the listener into hearing a multiplicity of guitars over his own. Second to that drummer Jason Gerycz plays the whole record with a severe, brute force and pummelling precision, aiding producer John Congleton in attaining a sound both consistent and utterly relentless.
And yet still, amongst all the cacophony, raw energy and occasional aspersion, Dylan Baldi retains his undisputed ability to write some of the most powerful hooks in modern alternative rock, with ‘I’m Not Part of Me’ boasting what may even be the catchiest chorus of the year thus far.
However, with that said, I still don’t quite understand the video.