By the time you read this review, summer will be over.
That's not really true, of course. It's early July. We're barely into the best season the oft-cruel calendar has to offer, but most know all too well that just as soon as the days are longest and the beers the coldest it's damn near time to get sweaters out and circle football Sundays on the calendar.
How a propos, then, that a band making music so perfectly fitting for a season has dropped an album that serves as a perfect parallel. Just as the weddings, road trips, sunsets and baseball games blur like a photo album you can never quite keep up with, so does Cloud Nothings' finest album to date.
Here and Nowhere Else is the fourth full-length from the Clevland trio, and it's positively electric.
The grungy lead-in to album opener "Now Here In" does well to mask what's to come; what starts a fairly laid-back rhythm quickly segues into a punchy chorus and chord progressions of increasing ferocity. By the minute mark, singer Dylan Baldi's gruff vocals are guiding the frenetic instrumentation like boat rising and falling with the swells of a storm. In just three-and-a-half minutes the breadth of what Cloud Nothings is capable of has been shown.
And yet nothing's been shown at all.
It feels weird to talk ambition in regards to a 31-minute album, but Baldi and co. make that conversation inescapable. There are so many layers to the album, so many sounds all coalescing into a crackling, fuzz-laden soundbomb. The angst and vitriol of "Quieter Today" somehow melds perfectly with the hard-driving melody of "Pattern Walks." The roaring undercurrents of "Giving Into Seeing" are the perfect follow-up to the pulsating "Just See Fear." There's always so much going on just beneath the surface. "Just See Fear" exemplifies this: Baldi's chord progressions cascade between crunchy, distorted salvos and meandering melody while drummer Jayson Gerycz ever-so-subtly picks up the pace. The walls start falling in at Gerycz's behest; the kick drum a rallying cry that Baldi answers with searing screams somehow more full than the TJ Duke bass lines backstopping it all.
It's raw. It's jarring. And it's completely pure.
Baldi's lyrics encapsulate those tenets just as well as the music he and his bandmates create. The 22-year-old is simultaneously prescient and jaded beyond his years. When he sings "You'll never be here, it's hard to explain, psychic trauma, returns with age / There's nothing new here, no room to relate, I don't know what you're trying to say" it's hard to not see someone that doesn't know the benefit of time.
But when he sings "I'm learning how to be here and nowhere else / How to focus on what I can do myself" it's hard not to see someone that doesn't legitimately have life pretty well figured out.
The latter excerpt comes from the album-closing "I'm Not a Part Of Me," what is undoubtedly the best song the band has recorded to date. This song, this song is summer. Energetic and fleeting and a day that you never want to end while you spend it trying to stop the hands on a clock. The rhythm is absolutely undeniable, the anthemic chorus is undeniable, and so it turns out is the end of this song because as soon as it finishes it begs to be run right back to the beginning. Gerycz's taut percussion drives the song until the Baldi's strumming picks up the pace and ushers in a chorus literally impossible to not sing along to. You can't stop it, you can only hope to contain it.
Next time you get into you car and put the windows down, this record will be on. Next time you're walking through an airport and headed somewhere on vacation, this record will be on. Next time you're drinking from dawn to dusk, this record will be on. And, if just for a moment, time will slow.
But the calendar always wins.