I love a good origin story - particularly when it comes to musicians. Cloud Nothings' tale is pretty impressive: started by then 18-year-old Dylan Baldi in a basement in Cleveland, it's grown to a fully-fledged, critically-acclaimed band set to release their third album, 'Life Without Sound'. So what does the new offering bring?
A little disclaimer: this music is a little rockier than much of my music library, but their tracks have been popping up on playlists over the past few months, so it's been hard to ignore them. Those songs - 'Internal World' and 'Modern Act' - have served as earworms which have kept me listening to the tunes on loop and have drawn me in to find out more about this new offering.
Broadly speaking, there's a lot of attitude on this album. It's abrasive and savage, with enough jagged edges to poke your eye out. But on closer inspection, there's a lot of different influences at work. Some songs are a heavy rock, others more punk, some reminiscent of a sleepy Death Cab For Cutie. It's a wildly varied work, with a rough exterior covering a soft centre.
'MODERN ACT' - CLOUD NOTHINGS
Drawing you in gently, opening track 'Up To The Surface' is a relatively subdued affair, mellow and prophetic with a sensation of dark storm clouds looming. The clouds break way for 'Things Are Right With You', with electric guitar and drums front and centre with full force. 'Internal World' provides a dose of unchained 90s-style rock, its repetitious (in a good way) chorus creating a compelling, catchy riff. With a garage surf feel, 'Darkened Rings' gives Baldi a chance to go back to his early days, raw and loose with gritty, rugged lyrics powerful and annihilating.
Without doubt, 'Modern Act' is the standout track on the album for me. Reflecting much of the callous cynicism of the LP - the chorus consists of the lyrics "I want a life, that's all I need lately, I am alive but all alone" - it does so with an upbeat and addictive attitude, showcasing a tune that will stick in your mind like molasses.
It's a wildly varied work, with a rough exterior covering a soft centre.
The latter portion of the album definitely takes things up a notch, with 'Strange Year' and 'Realise My Fate' offering heavier doses of rock. The former is dark and moody, building to a guttural screaming barrage from Baldi. The latter, which closes off the album, powers along with a foreboding drum beat which grows to a cacophony of ferocious chaos.
Even with its dismal outlook, 'Life Without Sound' is an album to make you feel alive. Its sonic vivaciousness and intensity balance with its more morose themes, presenting something which is awakening and, at times, addictive. Cloud Nothings have come a long way since basement recordings - let's hope they continue their steady ascent.
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