Cloud Nothings, “Life Without Sound”

Cloud Nothings
Life Without Sound
CARPARK
7/10

How many albums does it take to become a “veteran artist?” Three? Four? Four full-lengths, a collaborative album, a live record, and an EP? If the latter, Cleveland indie-rockers Cloud Nothings have proven their mettle, all before frontman Dylan Baldi’s twenty-sixth birthday.

Whatever the case may be, on Life Without Sound Cloud Nothings have realized—or stumbled upon—something lush and lovely. Thank veteran engineer/producer John Goodmanson (Blonde Redhead, Death Cab for Cutie) perhaps, but this tray of nine compositions has a far softer edge than the band’s previous material; the brittle is replaced by beautiful, angst by affection. The peripatetic spirit that made the noise of the band’s earlier releases (Attack on Memory in particular) so irresistible isn’t missing—not quite—but for every bout of spasm, there’s an unexpectedly gorgeous counterpoint that would make it seem like Cloud Nothings isn’t the name on the album cover.

And yet in a sense, this is the same album Cloud Nothings have made throughout their career—only they’ve found a new way of looking at it. And that’s the sign of a great band, no? Even if they’ve often failed to achieve it in live settings, their appeal has always rested in their ability to appeal with attitude. That isn’t lost here, there’s just more heart—and self-effacement (“I’m not the one who’s always right,” Baldi admits on “Internal World”). Now that’s a true sign of maturity.

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