This is the sound of growth, of maturation, of evolution. It’s the illustration of the axiom: talent borrows; genius steals. It’s the sound of adolescence becoming adulthood.
A grandiose introduction for a record review, to be sure. But the Cloud Nothings’ second album Attack on Memory (released in January) takes such a quantum leap from its predecessors that a little hyperbole feels in order. Until recently, Cleveland songwriter Dylan Baldi had spent his career borrowing snippets of indie rock history, churning out record after record of generic lo-fi rock. His work ethic was admirable – six singles and two albums in three years, plus a couple of cassette-only split releases and a digital single – but the music itself was forgettable, a fourth-generation tape dub of the moment indie rock became an identifiable sound.
His constant output, coupled with his age – Baldi dropped out of his first year of college to pursue music full-time – made for good press. And a songwriter that prolific no doubt has talent. But except for “I Am Rooftop” – a nod to Guided by Voices’ fascination with tape hiss and space aliens that received heavy airplay on WCDB – nothing stood out to me. What notoriety Cloud Nothings had stemmed from their story rather than their music itself. “A” for effort; ho-hum on everything else. But Attack on Memory changes that. Cloud Nothings finally stand on their own feet; they finally live up to their hype.