There are two types of Cloud Nothings song: good and amazing. His first album ‘Turning On’, when Cloud Nothings was nothing more than Dylan Baldi and a couple instruments, was good tracks, with the amazing ‘Hey Cool Kid’. Second album, a self-titled effort, is again full of good songs, with a few more amazing ones like ‘Forget You All the Time’ and ‘All the Time’ sprinkled throughout. Yes, it is weird that the best two songs are both called pretty much the same thing. Then, third album ‘Attack On Memory’ fully launches into what had been hinted at in previous efforts, a bubbling rage and layered texture to Cloud Nothings that we all knew was there, but had never been fully exposed. Like some sort of rash, Steve Albini uncovered the rage that Baldi obviously had, and fixated it into a brooding, tumultuous near-perfect album.
Now, a couple years on from that near-perfect record comes the logical next step-‘Here And Nowhere Else’. This is an album that’s so perfect, it should be viewed the same way the Internet views cat videos and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s got the perfect mix of brutality, speed, pain, hope, distortion, fuzz, and the million other things that make an album irresistible. It’s jam-packed with songs that are snarling and anthemic, switching between tracks that you blast at your slammed bedroom door, and songs that you shout along to haphazardly with your friends in your backyard over a couple beers.
For the first time, it seems like Dylan Baldi is really stretching his vocal chords. Completely gone are the days where there’d be a quiet sing-a-long point in a Cloud Nothings album. These songs are entrenched in fury and spit-shined with a grime that comes from years of adoring Sonic Youth. They’re dirtily poetic. Take for example, ‘Psychic Trauma’. It rushes at a full-lenght pace, so fast you’d think your colon is about to fall out of your butthole just out of the fury. Your have a right to be afraid-once it reaches its pinnacle of avalanching drums and lurching squeals of guitar, you will shit your pants. Not a metaphor, not a hyperbole-there will be a brown turd burglar in your jeans by the end of ‘Psychic Trauma’.
Such is the way of this album. Infectious grooves give way to fearsome screams, as Baldi ignites himself over and over again, the musical equivalent of Thích Quảng Đức. There’s the growling guitar paralleling the earnest questioning of ‘Giving Into Seeing’, the cliff-face, nail-bitingingly loud ‘Now Hear In’, and the 7 minute epic ‘Pattern Walks’, which moves in a million directions, whilst always retaining a fury and passion that would put the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family firmly in the place of top-notch fans.
But it’s the closer of ‘I’m Not Part of Me’ that ties the album together. There’s all this newfound anger and propulsion for Cloud Nothings, a momentum that’s seemingly unstoppable, and trapped in high velocity. But what’s Baldi trying to say? Is he just a bummed out guy that can make killer songs? No, ‘I’m Not Part of Me’ answers that by saying that it doesn’t pay to be angry all the time. Sometimes, you’ve got to let go, take a step back, and see everything for what it really is.
You can have all the killer riffs you want, but it’s the ultimate message that’s delivered in ‘Here And Nowhere Else’ that makes the album a modern day masterpiece. There is absolutely nothing to fault with this album. From start to finish it transfers energy and electricity that’s been unheard for so long. This album takes the Cloud Nothings name to soaring heights, with an execution that would do any pop culture icon justice. Although it’s only March, ‘Here And Nowhere Else’ is easily the most impressive record to date, and will be near-impossible to top.