There are some albums that sound strikingly familiar on the first listen. I’m not talking about the kind of “familiar” that induces groans – as in, “this sounds the EXACT SAME as [different band]” – but the kind of “familiar” that creates an instant bond with the material because you feel like you know it already.
At just under 34 minutes, Cleveland-based group Cloud Nothings’ Attack On Memory is an economical listen, but by the end of its eight angsty tracks, you might feel like you’ve grown up with this album your whole life. At its heart, whether intentionally or not, Attack is a rock album that harkens back to the early days of emo music, years before the “emo” label was reserved for the ridiculous melodrama of Story of the Year, AFI, and the eyeliner-and-hurt-yourself kids at your high school. Categorically, I’d put it right between Sunny Day Real Estate and Static Prevails-era Jimmy Eat World, but that’s just me. 20-year-old band frontman Dylan Baldi might disagree, as he explains in correspondence with Stereogum that the creative process for conceptualizing this album involved more studying of Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy than, say, Superchunk, but the output is fun either way.*
Attack on Memory is marked by creative dissonant guitar bits, strained vocals, and frenzied rhythms. “Fall In” and “Stay Useless” deliver the catchiest hooks on the album, and the dissonance is in top gear on “Separation” where the ferocious energy of drummer Jayson Gerycz is at its most palpable. Baldi’s raw vocal power is impressive, and it complements the rawness of the album as a whole. The lack of slick overproduction is perfect for the “don’t try to categorize us” tone of the album (sorry dudes) and eliminates any inkling of pretentiousness that you might expect from such a young success as Baldi.
In a strong week for new music releases, Attack On Memory is one of the highlights. I’m looking forward to more from this talented group in the years to come.
(1) “No Future/No Past”
(2) “Wasted Days”
(3) “Fall In”
(4) “Stay Useless”