C loud Nothings’ Attack On Memory, Rife with Anger and Uncertainty
By Nick Schwab
When sifting through Cloud Nothings’ catalogue, remember to tread softly, because you might be treading on the times of your lost years.
Call it the Wonder Years, call it Step By Step, call it My So Called Life, call it what you will, but the question remains … and this album asks: Will these so called “best” times of one’s life amount to nothing but “Wasted Days”?
Much like that epic-length song off their newest album, Attack On Memory, it is not uncommon for anyone to believe that their time on this planet may add up to nothing but regrets and sorrow.
The song contains the refrain: “I know my life’s not going to change/ And I’ll live through all these wasted days/ I never thought I would end up this way/ And I know it’s gonna stay the same/ I thought I would be more than this.”
Upset and up in arms, indeed. Singer and guitarist Dylan Baldi feels that it reflects these times of inner uncertainty, frustration and anguish.
“Wasted Days is about a sense of displacement and confusion that I think a lot of people around my age feel,” describes Baldi. “The album as a whole is pretty much my way of dealing with the lack of direction that I felt in life at the time I was writing it about a year ago.”
However, when hearing this Cleveland, Ohio unit’s prior output, one may be flabbergasted that this once sweet-tuned act threw away their ice cream cones for a bottle of whisky.
“I was sick of playing the same kind of airy, light pop songs over and over, so I wanted to make a change with this record,” explains Baldi. “It’s a lot darker and more aggressive than the previous Cloud Nothings albums.”
Baldi maintains that he was in this mindset of discontent, and also wanted to his sound to progress accordingly.
“That’s just the place I was in when I was writing these lyrics,” he admits. “I wanted to make it clear from the start that the record was a change from our self-titled album.”
Baldi has shown this stylistic change of pace not just in tone, but in sound and even runtime — by placing the two longest songs at the very beginning, he tactfully creates a contradiction at the earliest point.
“If it had started with a poppier song it might have come across as similar to the last record which was pop-based,” he says.
One could say this change in sound is daring. Music fans are not always known to be polite when a band or artist flips the sound that initially drew them to the music in the first place.
Baldi, however, thinks he has mostly dodged the backlash in that regard.
“For the most part I think the fans have carried over to the new record,” he says. “There are a few people who hate it but there are so many more people who like it — and more people showing up to our shows.”
Despite the album being full of Jawbreaker/Nirvana alt-rock outcry, Baldi seems to know that art is one of the best outlets for a release of inner woes.
“I’m not an angry or upset person all the time, but when I happened to need to write lyrics, it’s how I was feeling. It was just my way of dealing with that sentiment,” explains Baldi. “[I] can’t say that I’ve fully worked it out yet, but screaming about it every night helps,” he freely admits.
Baldi notes Jimmy Buffet as an artist that he would like his career to reflect the most … however, like the album’s song “Our Plans,” his eyes are not dilated about the exact future.
“I think we’re going to keep trying new things. Whether the new things sound totally different from Attack On Memory or not remains to be seen,” he said, and then thankfully added a relieving sentiment. “There’s always more to learn, though, which is why we’ll keep making music!”
Cloud Nothings will play at MOTR Pub in Cincinnati on March 22nd and at Outland Live In Columbus, Ohio on April 7th with other dates before and in-between. For more information visit www.myspace.com/cloudnothings.
Reach DCP freelance writer Nick Schwab at NickSchwab@DaytonCityPaper.com.
[Photo: Ryan Manning]