Review: Cloud Nothings- Here and Nowhere Else

Posted: March 29, 2014 in Reviews

Cloud Nothings are fun. That’s the best way to describe them, and it is certainly not meant as a criticism. They are just a straight-up, no-bullshit, catchy-as-shit garage rock meets ‘80s alternative dance-a-thon. Following 2012’s Attack on Memory, Here and Nowhere Else is leaner, meaner and packs a bigger punch. It is arguably a little less inventive at the same time. There is nothing that comes close to the 9 minute brilliance of “Wasted Days”, for instance. But I think to say such a thing would be a tad harsh. When you listen to the first few tracks of Here and Nowhere Else, they do seem to rely upon a tried and tested formula: scrappy, yet melodic, lo-fi garage rock. The key change in “Psychic Trauma” is brilliant, but it is a trick that can only be used once for maximum effect. In opposition to this criticism, I would counter two things: (1) If it’s this catchy and it works, why try to force it in novel directions? (2) You probably haven’t listened to the second half of the album.

What makes Cloud Nothings interesting, what makes them different from being just another garage rock band, is their pure emotion and angst, dripping from every song. But it only really begins to make its presence felt in two songs towards the end: “No Thoughts”, which buzzes along with a pop-punk-y stride, before singer Dylan Baldi descends into a primeval scream of “You’re born/You’re gone”, and “Pattern Walks”, easily the longest song on the album, clocking in at just over seven minutes, but which complements, rather than separates itself, from the rest of Here and Nowhere Else. As well as the surface level of immediacy of the poppy, garage rock, as with the ultra-catchy “I’m Not Part of Me”, there is a depth here, which touches on post-punk and grunge; indeed, the raw emotion of Bleach comes to mind at times here. There is another obvious comparison here: the lo-fi garage-punk of Wipers. But grunge is arguably where Cloud Nothings remain lyrically: disillusion, disaffection and dissatisfaction. The ‘80s alternative/college rock scene sung about being disconnected from the rest of the world 30 years ago (“I’m not telling you all I’m going through/ I feel fine), and you could argue that this ground need not be retread, but while some bands have merely aped this era’s bands, Cloud Nothings seem to respect, and build upon, what they did. Which is how pretty much all good music works.

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