Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory (Cover Artwork)

Cloud Nothings

Attack On Memory (2012)


Cloud Nothings' Dylan Baldi makes it very clear that he is not interested in producing the nostalgic lo-fi indie rock that has been increasingly popular over the past few years. Beyond the overt lyrical references to this and the title of the record, Attack On Memory follows through by sounding forward-thinking and assertive, combining catchy melodies and powerful songwriting with punk sensibilities. This album has an urgency and pace to it that makes it immediately exciting from the first listen and is a refreshing change of pase from the hazy lethargy of years past to start 2012.

The album opens with the slow-burning "No Future/No Past," which reaches its exhilarating crescendo in a concise three-and-a-half minutes and is a fitting introduction to the record's sound. Baldi's strained vocals climb to a scream with the instrumentation before slipping into the longest track on the album, "Wasted Days." This track continues the lyrical themes of despair and frustration with a heavy chorus of "I thought I would be more than this," and features the mixture of melody and intensity that is the record's sonic cornerstone. Blisteringly intense drums propel one riff after another and reinforce this album's no-bullshit attitude. Not a single note or second is wasted (that would be rather hypocritical, wouldn't it?) and the song earns all of its almost nine minutes.

Even the production reflects Attack On Memory‘s assertive motivation, which is not surprising as the band worked with Steve Albini, the musical king of "no bullshit." It is crystal clear and as heavy as it could be with this style of music, giving the bass and drums enough room to breathe energy into every song while allowing for Baldi's crunchy guitar and melodic, albeit raw vocals to drive home the message. The record sounds fantastic without falling into the trap of overproduction and is an excellent complement to the strong songwriting.

At just over 30 minutes, this album lives up to its stylistic brevity, even throwing in an instrumental, "Separation," that is possibly the most energetic and frantic song on the album and never loses focus over its three minutes. There is a decent balance between the more melodic tracks like "Stay Useless" and "Falling In" with bangers like "Wasted Days" and "No Sentiment," though much of the album's strength lies in its ability to reconcile the two into a furious call-to-arms against nostalgia and escapism. It seems like it has been a while since an album showed so much purpose and transparency and while Attack On Memory‘s staying power may be tested very quickly due to its simplistic approach and streamlined songwriting, it stands for now as an exciting start to the year.