Cloud Nothings’ ‘Life Without Sound’ is a polished evolution

Cloud Nothings’ “Life Without Sound”
Ian Caramanzana

Four stars

Cloud Nothings Life Without Sound

Dylan Baldi’s days of cranking out brash indie/garage-rock are far from over. Two albums beyond the Steve Albini-produced Attack on Memory—Baldi’s critically acclaimed breakout featuring a full-fledged Cloud Nothings lineup—the quartet presents a sonic progression, rather than a reinvention, with Life Without Sound.

The band’s fourth LP begins with a piano riff that transforms into bustling Superchunk-style riffing in “Up to the Surface,” a signal the band hasn’t traded its lo-fi, four-chord anthems for something less substantial. Songs like “Darkened Rings” and closer “Realize My Fate” recall the band’s days of frantic, noisy punk goodness. The key here is polish. Cloud Nothings have sanded down most of their grit to expose their melodic undertones and traditional songwriting structures (think Archers of Loaf meets Weezer). The result is an evolution. “Enter Entirely” retains the band’s anthemic qualities amidst a bustling wall of feedback; “Sight Unseen” marries twangy leads and nasaly vocals with a brisk tempo. Perhaps it’s fitting that Baldi ends his latest album’s opener by declaring, “I knew peace in the terror of the mind.”

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