I find that the best records are those in which the artist gives it their all. They encapsulate everything they are coping with or feeling at a given time and put it out there sonically to the best of their abilities, using every bit of their talent.
“Attack on Memory,” the latest release from Cloud Nothings, the noise-punk project of Dylan Baldi, has just that full, powerful sound, as if the artist couldn’t have produced anything better.
“Attack on Memory” is largely distressing. The opening track, “No Future/No Past,” is a weakening tune in sound. Baldi drones of giving up over a queasy piano. It rarely changes, save the banging of more drums. It’s in that static quality that songs become disheartening. In the song’s final minute, Baldi breaks down in screams of “No future, no past,” breaking the song’s structure, intensifying its bleak character.
“Wasted Days” follows at almost nine minutes in length; it is much more fast-paced than its predecessor, though it still maintains the same upset mood. Baldi appears to be dissatisfied, and that feeling imposes itself on the listeners’ senses.
After the grim ordeal presented in the first two songs, the album becomes completely different. “Fall In” and “Stay Useless” are jangly, lightly poppy tunes, considerably more catchy than the rest of the album. In being shorter, poppier tunes, they are a bit easier to listen to and understand. “Stay Useless” is simply about doing nothing and having nothing going on in one’s life, as Baldi sings in its chorus, “I need time to stay useless / I need time to stop moving.”
The instrumental “Separation” follows, indicating a transition from the previous, easy songs back to the original, dreary sound. “No Sentiment” is defined by its heavy guitar and reckless lyricism. If that isn’t enough, “Our Plans” reflects the same reckless attitude in its chorus and a corresponding whine in the verses.
The album concludes with the longing, demanding “Cut You.” This track is near-representative of the album. Baldi becomes brutally honest and just raw with his lyricism: “I need something I can damage / I need something I can hurt.” The guitar riff in itself could take the role of a chorus — it’s just as driving as Baldi’s half-shouts.
“Attack on Memory” is an attack on life in its mediocrity and flatness. It’s definitely a pessimistic record, but possibly one of the most consistent that will come out this year.