By John Sosnowski in Arts & Entertainment
February 9, 2012
Cleveland-based Cloud Nothings’ new album “Attack on Memory” is an aptly titled indie/punk romp, living up to its title in a metaphorical sense.
With solid instrumentalism, straightforward but relatable lyricism, and a general energy throughout, the album immediately feels like a torchbearer of the rich Midwestern emo and post-hardcore legacy of the 1990s crafted by the likes of Cap’n Jazz, American Football, and The Promise Ring. Despite this regional influence, Cloud Nothings seem to make a genuine effort to branch out, adapting a few different styles into their particular aesthetic niche.
“Attack on Memory” opens with the slow burner “No Future/No Past,” with an early 90s grunge feel that makes it sound as if it could just as easily be an unreleased Nirvana rarity.
Keeping us on our toes after the relatively tame opener is the eight-minute post-hardcore monster “Wasted Days,” which could be the darkest song on the album, but also the most enthralling.
Although it starts out with a pair of bleaker songs, the album grows more upbeat and slips into a comfortable flow with a couple of songs bearing the youthful lyrics and fun riffs typical of the band’s spiritual forefathers Cap’n Jazz.
“Stay Useless” would be a perfect soundtrack addition for literally any slacker-oriented comedy film. In another kneejerk shift, we get serious again with the vaguely nihilistic noise rock of “No Sentiment”. Rounding out the album are the ambiguous love song “Our Plans” and the bouncy but not cute sendoff of “Cut You”.
The most significant common threads tying this album together are tight instrumentalism and lo-fi production. Gritty production values have been a staple of punk since the beginning, and whether they’re intentional here or a product of a low budget, it serves to give this album a certain charm that many major label releases fail to achieve.
However, low production values don’t equal low performance values. Every guitar lick fits together expertly, creating a dynamic sound.
For those who still like their rock with more than two chords per song, this album is a must-hear.
The year is young, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be a highlight of 2012.