I’m going to make up some statistics on the Cloud Nothings’ Attack On Memory in an attempt to downplay what you’ll read about it. Their efficiency rate on this record is around 78.3/min, their +/- is +7.5 and they are 17% darker in the paint this record than the the last one. All of this number crunching is to say that this record is a little different from the last one. It’s an “aural assault of the heart” according to Time, so it has to be different from the frivolous-sounding self-titled jam. Only, it really isn’t. In fact, I’m contending that this record is essentially a continuation of a slow-evolving sound. Of course, the first record is poppy and the second one is angry. I’m just not convinced that the songwriting is dramatic or that Cloud Nothings write aural assualts. These are punk rock songs, plain and simple, and they speak to the angry misbegotten soul like punk rock is supposed to.
In an attempt to hit the big-time, I’m gonna start writing for 10L again. In and of itself, that’s exciting, right?
– A new Life and Times record is coming in a few days.
– Drake’s supposed comeback to Common might solidify him as my least favorite rapper in history.
– ATDI reunion.
– New Cloud Nothings in February.
– The Freeway/Jacka Collabo.
And, on top of it, REVIEWS of these things. I’m sorry I got depressed and laid around and watched basketball and stopped writing and left you cold and dead and without love and then started like nine reviews but never finished them. There will be some “Shit we missed in 2011″ reviews. And some just plain “blog” posts to keep the site going stronger than before. Best records of 2011? Storms “Lay Your Sea Coat Aside,” Cymbals Eat Guitars “Lenses Alien,” Jon Connor “Season 2 Mixtape,” Random Axe “Random Axe” and other shit I will get around to talking about. So, yeah, I’m sorry we left. But we are sort-of back. It’s somewhat on.
There’s a lot stacked against me liking Cloud Nothings. There’s my history of having heard so many other bands like them. There’s the simplistic nature of the songwriting. There’s the style-over-substance appearance of the album. Still, I find myself wanting to hear them more. And more. It’s to the point where I was so obsessed with the band that I asked friends to listen to them and tell me why they are so good. It was a friend of mine on a short road trip that pointed out that Cloud Nothings are good because their style doesn’t belie their sensibility. “They’re so poppy, but these are some dark lyrics. It’s awesome.” Simple pop structures and vocal transpositions aren’t just tools, they’re choices on this album. There’s a dark side to this record and it is masqued beautifully with juxtaposed lightness of pop.
Each song being an exercise in brevity and shortsightedness, “Understand At All” kicks off the party well. Not many chords, not much song, nary a note out of place, the opening to Cloud Nothings is an enjoyable window into the easygoing-yet-troubled mindset of the writing. This theme continues in “Not Important.” An angry underbelly shows a resistance to boredom with the song centering around a broken relationship not worth fixing (rather than the usual opining of a successful relationship that marks the genre). “You’re not that important now/ and that will always stay the same.” Brutal truths are usual the most bitter ones, but in the case of this record, it seems the truths are both self-evident and easily dealt with.
In the dreamier and prettier “Should Have,” a positivity shows up that isn’t prevalent on the album. “I always knew I’d follow you/ but now I know that it’s much better.” A sweet and loving song– a soft side to the dark corners of the other songs– moves the listener toward mid-album rockers like “Heartbeat.” The listener is later re-inundated with the normalcy of negativity, but “Should Have” rounds out a pretty great album early on. “Forget You All the Time” follows that feeling up with a sense of atonement– life has ups and downs– and an explanation that communication is not the strong point of either the known-known (the relationship in the song) or the known-unknown (the communique between the listener and writer). It’s an under-the-table apology of sorts; the idea that while not much is communicated, there is still meaning in short space. And, in a way, its a fitting way to circumvent talking too much about the songs themselves.
And perhaps that Cloud Nothings’ purpose. “I don’t have a heartbeat, why do you?,” “You love me but now we’re both dead,” “I am understanding but I can’t believe what you’ve been through,” “I’m getting old forever so I’m getting old so fast.” These are the earmarks of the best songs on the album. The catchiest and most provocative times for Cloud Nothings are when the album is both confessional and vaguely teaching. It’s a rock album, it has soul and it is a guilty pleasure all at once. Going too far in depth on the songs is actually self-defeating, and yet the album invites the criticism: “It’s happens all the time, at least that’s what they know.” That’s the last line on the album, the closing nugget of information on this, a lurid distraction. And it might be the most important. What we know is what we’re told, and that’s really all we need from a simple, fantastic set of anthems.