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Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else


Prior to 2012’s Attack On Memory, Cloud Nothings were often found buoyant in the same lo-fi slacker waters as Ty Segall, Wavves and a myriad of other Pitchfork darlings. Memory’s somewhat messianic production from Steve Albini explored the four piece’s heavier fundamental aesthetics and lathered it with frontman Dylan Baldi’s pop sensibilities. Following buzz singles ‘Stay Useless’ and ‘Fall In’ we saw Cloud Nothings nail the right-of-way Letterman Show and gain favourable festivals slots in all corners of the tour circuit. By bringing in producer John Congleton (The Dismemberment Plan, Explosions in the Sky) on their fourth LP we see a band who’ve played venues all over the world come back home wanting to capture the brash, ballsy and above all  fun sound of the dingy basement shows that drew attention to Cloud Nothings many moons ago.

Clocking in at just over the thirty minute mark, Here and Nowhere Else leaves absolutely no fat for the listener to deal with. One anomaly beaded under each track is how Congleton’s caustic approach of recording the band at its liveliest produces a rare juxtaposition of their playing sounding much heavier and Baldi’s low-slung, cerebral pop hooks being as effervescent as ever. It’s a welcome revelation of sorts in lieu of recent bright-pop production releases from counterparts Tokyo Police Club and Mac DeMarco. Cloud Nothings’ earlier manifesto of denouncing their past (or for want of phrase; attacking memory) resulted in what initially felt like a modern take on Weezer’s Pinkerton for the over-connected, under-appreciative post-millennial world. Here, on LP #4, Cloud Nothings have an interesting and forward thinking focus point, with the will to not over-estimate the modern listener’s attention span.

Lyrically Baldi seems worryingly vexed and jaded for someone with such success at only 23. Giving so much of himself to a clique audience so readily seems to have taken its toll as the hook of “I’m not telling youwhat I’m going through” in lead single ‘I’m Not Part Of Me’ repeats on end. For a time it’s been criminally easy to berate Baldi for borrowing an extended amount from 90s nice-guy, Evan Dando, but tracks like ‘Give Into Seeing’ and ‘Quieter Today’ dispel that lazy comparison. There’s a halfway point in Here and Nowhere Else where you’d be tempted to conclude that this band have cemented a niche for themselves in abrasively played college rock songs, but look closer and you’ll still find signals and clues as to where they can potentially head sonically on the follow up. ‘Psychic Trauma’ is an epic in three parts that’s both colossal and compact in equal measure while ‘Pattern Walks’ – essentially being the centerpiece of Here – takes the Cloud Nothings constitution one step further; pushing themselves into vastly obtuse territories that may well be the foundations of LP #5.

Essentially, Here is not a record that backtracks Cloud Nothings nor does it have them make any great fundamental changes. Baldi and co know enough about what they did right on Attack to not lose any of their relatively new fans, but also know enough about what their best attributes now are as a band and how they want to exploit them. By keeping both sides of this spectrum in balance, it’s clear skies ahead for Cloud Nothings. Peter Devine

Cloud Nothings play Dublin’s Button Factory on May 24.