Artist: Cloud Nothings
Album: The Shadow I Remember
Label: Carpark Records
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Country: United States
Originally published on the 4ZZZ New Releases Show
Over a decade of existence in the bag, Cloud Nothings still love nothing more than to scale up otherwise middle of the road indie rock into blister-inducing flurries, by duct-taping a rocket to their music. This idea of super charging everything they do has set them as outliers in their realm. After so long do Cloud Nothings ever question their own idiosyncrasy, ploughing through the rough at the edge of rock’n’roll? Is there somewhere else they’d like to go before hitting the finish line? The Shadow I Remember does ruminate on this question….for the slightest of moments before boarding their usual freight train, crashing on, straight ahead, with familiar, boundless drive. You can catch snatches, glimpses of wayward thoughts and if your eyes can follow these fleeting glances, kudos to you. Me? I’m here for the ride.
A droll milling of chords welcomes us to Oslo, made even more quaint by transposed piano notes which will make their presence felt throughout the record. Shrill feedback shatters what was -until that point- a tranquil trio of rolling guitars, piano dancing, and frontman Dylan Baldi’s vocals. Steam is gathered as things roll along, amassing phasing melodies and explosive drums. Again our piano compadre announces itself on Nothing Without You but now the band are reaching cruising speed. Propelled by what can only be a self-regenerating rhythm section, things are going smoothly now. A counterpoint to Baldi’s rough, near mumbles on the chorus here is a nice touch. They aren’t flawless vocals by any means but more of a minor warble as each line fades out and it fits perfectly. Only Light peaks and crashes in quick succession with stop-start verses. Jerky movements smooth themselves out as the bridge glides into a gorgeous chorus. Before it subsides into the comparatively subdued Nara, Only Light plays host to another set of key inflections this time matching the host’s frenetic presentation. Nara is a ballad by Cloud Nothing’s standard and the “who do you wanna be / what do you want to go further” refrain gives more time for quiet pondering than previously allowed. Under the meat here exists a constant pad of keys with the rough edge of feedback adding a slightly buried flourish. Lead single Am I Something revisits omnipresent existential crisis present in the ten year discography and mixes said malaise with ugly guitars turning in on themselves and absolute machine gun drumming. This is a quintessential Cloud Nothings song. Both A Longer Moon and It’s Love begin in disarmingly slow, sombre fashion prior to whipping themselves into the usual frenzy. The Cleveland crew know their formula with millimetre precision and their ability to constantly rework their sound without becoming stale is truly awe-inspiring.
When you’ve made ten trips around the sun at a blitzkrieg pace, you’d be forgiven for thinking about slowing down and indulging in lush soundscapes and introspective musings. None of that here whatsoever. Those thoughts pop up and then are whisked away by the sheer speed at which The Shadow I Remember travels, reducing them down to flashes and nothing more. Good luck if you can remember their shadows. Doesn’t matter if you can’t because we’ve still got a hell of a track in front of us.
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