Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory

After the very Wavves-ish demo collection Turning On, you’d have been forgiven for writing off Cloud Nothings as yet another lo-fi band in an already crowded field. Dylan Baldi, the man behind the Cloud Nothings moniker, had a knack for pop hooks, but, squashed out by the shitty recordings, the band struggled to stand out.

Jump ahead a few years, and you’d be forgiven for thinking another band had nicked Baldi’s name. In a way, that’s true – forced to recruit help to play his songs live, Cloud Nothings became a four-piece. Along the way, the band dynamic shifted from Baldi’s earlier, murky rock to a clearer, sharper sound that had more in common with the Replacements and Jawbreaker than grunge and shoegaze.

With the legendary Steve Albini behind the boards, Attack On Memory strips away the scurf to reveal a taut, sinewy band that can punch out dissonant, Sunny Day Real Estate-style fury ( Wasted Days, Our Plans ) and bratty power-pop ( Fall In ), not to mention the pure instrumental brawn of Separation. Though it indulges in an aesthetic that peaked before the 20-year-old Baldi hit puberty, Attack On Memory packs more than enough tension and vitality, sounding like a contemporary of Diary or 24 Hour Revenge Therapy rather than a cheap retro knockoff. Most critically, every song sounds like a band caught up in the sheer joy of playing, and, in an era where professionalism has once again become a virtue, it’s invigorating to hear a band so engaged in making music.

Despite the impressive prowess of the entire band, though, this is very much the Dylan Baldi Show. The knack for simple, powerful melodies that early Cloud Nothings hinted at is fully realised in Attack On Memory. Across a lean eight tracks and half-hour running time, there’s not a wasted moment or failed hook. Even the aforementioned instrumental, Separation, is bursting with more melody and propulsive energy than most bands can cram into a single.

Cloud Nothings could comfortably put out another two or three albums like Attack On Memory, and they’d build a solid, loyal fanbase – they’ve certainly got the chops and the hooks to pull it off. There’s something more to this band, though; there’s an energy, a willingness to explore, that suggests they won’t be content to plough this same furrow much longer. It’s that sort of spark that sets Cloud Nothings apart, and hints at a long and compelling future.