Cloud Nothings

Life Without Sound

Written by: TL on 13/02/2017 16:24:00

I won't pretend to know why Wichita-based indie quartet Cloud Nothings have called their fifth and newest album "Life Without Sound", but one explanation you could give is that it means to give you something to think about that feels even sadder after you've actually heard the record, because oh wow. Anyone who's heard 2012's breakthrough album "Attack On Memory" would, of course, know already that Cloud Nothings were a band apart, but that doesn't mean it isn't awesome to find that they still are here two records later.

The band plays a style of indie/post-punk that is sort of a rock musician's dream, because great care is clearly taken with finding the right amount of distortion and the right tone of the dual guitars, but otherwise the soundscape is all 'organic' - free of overt digital touches, neatly polished vocals or rigidly formulaic song structures. The band clearly has a sort of old-school appreciation for finding grooves and then jamming them out just right, making the most of them and making them flow into each other in a way that feels seamless and catalyses the energy in a song.

And with that being said, they're not one of those excessively artsy bands where you can't find your way in a song or hear what anyone is singing. Frontman Dylan Baldi sings with a slacker rocker's noticeable drawl and lisp, sure, but his voice is foreground enough for you to pick up the words, yet perfectly balanced and arranged so you can still appreciate each different instrument. And if there's one thing he's great at, it's coming up with hooks that - although they would probably be infectious enough in their own right - are then consistently fleshed out, starting with lyrics and instruments following the same melody, for one to then repeat while the other tries a variation, or vice versa. Then routinely smack in an equally memorable b-part, keep the listener interested in that for a while, only to circle back and hit them with the joy of recognition with the first hook again, and boom, it works every time.

"Life Without Sound", although still a hazy indie rock record, is perhaps a smidge neater and less fuzzy and fast-paced than the former two, "Here And Nowhere Else" and "Attack On Memory", although the excellent "Darkened Rings" and "Sight Unseen" still keep the pace neck-breaking, giving you ample opportunity to fall in love with Jayson Gerycz's drumming all over again. But this progression is actually welcome following the at times a little too intense "Here And Nowhere Else", and it makes it easier to remember separate songs, from an album that otherwise also functions quite well as an uninterrupted thrill ride in its own right. Take the garage-ish "Enter Entirely", the optimistic lift of "Modern Act", or the mindful "I'm not the one who's always right" mantra of "Internal World" and their differences reflect nicely how "Attack On Memory" also had a short and poppy "Stay Useless" to compliment a brooding epic like "Wasted Days".

That being said, if there's one criticism to level at Cloud Nothings - one possible reason you could think for them to not be a band for the long, long ages - it remains that the variations in what they do are still rather small, bound within the relatively narrow concept they work with. But that's okay because I don't think we really need Dylan Baldi to write some trailblazing modern classic. A record like "Life Without Sound" in itself is such a parade of little but exhilarating triumphs that it is a sure shot to reward you every time you throw it back on, and probably have you contemplating repeats upon each finish.

Download: Sight Unseen, Modern Act, Internal World, Things Are Right With You
For The Fans Of: Japandroids, Car Seat Headrest, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Pærish

Release date 27.01.2017
Wichita Recordings

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