Cloud Nothings - Last Building Burning (Cover Artwork)

Cloud Nothings

Last Building Burning (2018)

Carpark Records

A careening ride through heartbreak, misery, and (ultimately) hope, Last Building Burning is Cloud Nothings scorched-earth send-off to relationships gone wrong.

It’s evident from the sudden, violent opener “On the Edge” that this will be abrasive listening, even as the song erupts into a catchy but no less ferocious coda. The scrappy vocal harmonies and icy guitars of “Leave Him Now” showcase the band’s pop instincts, but singer Dylan Baldi can’t resist unleashing his captivating bark before the song’s end.

The songs on Last Building Burning are equal parts visceral fury and cerebral insight, with a deeply felt melancholic undercurrent throughout. The lyrics are enthralling in their repetition and economy (many songs don’t have a second verse and choruses are usually mantra-like phrases).

The music can veer off into interesting tangents, but the band usually switches gears right when a section starts to get interesting, such as on the thrilling interlude of “The Echo of the World”. This “musical ADD” can make the songs difficult for a listener to latch on to, but Last Building Burning is more about the overall experience than the individual songs.

Sometimes the results can be almost unlistenable, such as when the 10-minute (!) “Dissolution” devolves into squalls of feedback and instrument noise, coming off like a third-rate Mars Volta at the end of a bad acid trip (so basically late-period Mars Volta). Which is a shame, because “Dissolution” has the best lyrics and the catchiest chorus on the entire album.

The band only really lets up energy during “So Right So Clean,” a slow, abrasive walk through heartache with a knockout punch of a lyric (“I smell death on a crowded street/I feel the last old building burnin’/I’ve got nowhere left to put my feet”).

“Another Way of Life” ends the album on an optimistic note, providing both a respite from the fury that came before it and a satisfying conclusion to the journey of the album. A middle finger with a smile.

Despite some discouraging indulgences, Last Building Burning is an often-inspired and passionate slab of cathartic hardcore that will definitely inspire repeated listens.