A horrible hack

Cloud Nothings

Here And Nowhere Else

Year Released: 2014
Format: LP
Label: Carpark
 
Reviewed by Andrew Revis on May 25, 2014
Two years ago, when Cloud Nothings released their last album, the acclaimed Attack On Memory, 20-year-old frontman Dylan Baldi became the latest angsty suburban kid to get us all excited about distorted guitars again. His band formed part of no movement or scene, existing to satisfy themselves and themselves alone. And yet somehow, almost by accident, Baldi, full of Fuck the worlds and questionable facial hair, had made the guitar album of the year.

Two years later and we have our follow-up. Surely they could go overground, could go interstellar! With Baldi's uncanny knack for a hooky melody is it not inevitable that this release would be a sleek, sterile, radio-friendly extravaganza? Here And Nowhere Else is not that album. In many ways it's a step backwards, and all the better for it. It's more muscular than the poppy, schizophrenic Attack On Memory - if anything Baldi has embraced the grunge tag so often been attached to his band. But they're anything but throwbacks - Cloud Nothings have far more in common with Metz or Drive Like Jehu or even early Trail of Dead than they do Yuck or Soundgarden or Dinosaur Jr.

They're still loud and fuzzy and abrasive and a little bit brattish. On these eight tracks they demonstrate one speed and one tone, yet somehow each is more exhilarating than the last, from the frenetic Psychic Trauma to the furious Giving Into Seeing to the raucous No Thoughts, Baldi snarling like a young Cobain. Then there's the sinister penultimate track Pattern Walks, which somehow feels like a follow-up to the stunning Wasted Days on Attack On Memory, if only for its excesses in vitriol and length, the earlier track's demented "I thought I would be more than this!" refrain now the slightly calmer "I thought I never would remember." I just wish they'd chosen to open the album with I'm Not Part Of Me, rather than closing with it, nailing it down as their statement of intent for this much-anticipated return: "It starts right now. There's a way I was before, but I can't recall how I was those days anymore." Not unlike that opening line to Nirvana's so-anticipated In Utero album: "Teenage angst has paid off well, now I'm bored and old."

And speaking of In Utero, Cloud Nothing's previous album was produced (sorry, 'engineered') by the very same punk-rock teddybear Steve Albini. This time round they opted for the in-demand John Congleton. Where Albini sat back and let the band do their thing - in his customary manner - Congleton does, well, much the same, recording the band as live as can be. This hands-off approach works to all the bands strengths, mirroring their unhinged live shows, leaving Baldi free to holler and howl as he sees fit.

No, it's not Nevermind, it's not In Utero, it's not Yank Crime - but Here And Nowhere Else is a brave, bold and worthy return from a still very young band, full of a recklessness and vigour that's impossible to resist.


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