Rather than beginning slowly or keeping the pace at a steady jog as they did with many of the tracks on 2012’s Attack on Memory, the Cleveland punk rockers hit the ground running and accelerates to a full sprint with every track on this record.
Amidst the sonic chaos, frontman and songwriter Dylan Baldi scream-sings lyrics about alienation and anxiously living in the moment to keep pace with a fast-moving world. The distressed, vitriolic themes and loud guitar noise play off of each other extremely effectively in a way that lends the music a sense of frank sincerity.
The seven minute-long track “Pattern Walks” is an obvious, almost obligatory follow-up to Attack on Memory’s nine-minute standout “Wasted Days.” While its predecessor kicked off its album as a sort of thesis statement, “Pattern Walks” is this record’s climax in the second-last spot, beginning with an angry, distorted bassline and building into an intense concrete wall of guitars. Though the band’s messier aesthetic is very successful on the pop-sized tracks that make up the rest of the album, this epic rocker might have benefited from some of the subtler production techniques that made its predecessor so fantastic. Regardless, the song’s explosive ending definitely communicates the liberating catharsis that Baldi was going for. Plus, it makes a fantastic lead-in to the concluding single cut “I’m Not Part of Me,” which might be Cloud Nothings’ best song to date.
In spite of all their anguish and lo-fi fuzz, these songs are filled with enough catchy melodies and shout-alongable lines to make them immediately memorable. It’s a bit ironic that Baldi fixates so much on the here and now, because this record is certain to receive play time well into the future.
Favorite tracks: “Psychic Trauma,” “Pattern Walks,” “I’m Not Part of Me”