When Attack on Memory came out in 2012, Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings debuted a beefed up, electric sound that surprised early followers of the band. Cloud Nothings’ early recordings were lo-fi and flimsy, partially out of necessity because leader Dylan Baldi wrote the songs in his parent’s basement, but he had a knack for well-crafted, catchy pop-rock songs, like “Hey Cool Kid” or “Understand at All.”
With Here and Nowhere Else, the newest Cloud Nothings effort, the trajectory set with Attack on Memory is expanded upon with results making it just as good, if not with a few diminishing returns in terms of hooks in songs compared to its previous album.
The band, is tight in a ramshackle, garage rock sort of way, with some songs feeling like they may implode — but with planned precision. The band is now a trio, but they don’t lose any of the depth that guitarist Joe Boyer provided on Attack on Memory. Remarkably, on songs like “Pattern Walks,” “Psychic Trauma” and “Giving Into Seeing” the band sounds fuller and more frenetic than ever.
Part of that energy is thanks to drummer Jayson Gerycz, who pushes the tempos of songs to their exact limit and then a little more. He’s a powerful player with whirlwinds of fills and cymbal crashes filling gaps between the bass, guitar and vocals.
As a live band, Cloud Nothings play fast. When it would play material on Attack on Memory, the songs would be sped up by 10-20 beats per minute. Here and Nowhere Else’s collection of songs ought to be fascinating to see, just because they feel even faster and seem to push the limits of how fast the band can play. Album opener “Now Hear In,” is notable for the shifts in tempo that make it sound imperfect, which in turn makes it perfect, aside from the lack of a great hook.
If there’s a knock on Here and Nowhere Else, that’s it. There are fewer hooks than any of Cloud Nothings recent output. Single “I’m Not Part of Me” has the strongest and most memorable guitar line, and is similar to previous singles “Stay Useless” and “Fall In.” Baldi’s repeated scream of “saying something, it’s supposed to be true,” is another notable moment, but it isn’t as accessible as Attack on Memory.
It shouldn’t matter all that much, because the energy produced on the album is remarkable in the sense that it feels like a live album. Fans of guitar rock should be pleased with the care put into arranging different layers and the chug of the rhythm section that’s present on every entry.