Despite the kill-the-past title Attack on Memory, Cloud Nothings' second album conjures up the ghosts of bands such as Nirvana, Unwound, and Fugazi -- acts whose heydays occurred when Dylan Baldi was a tyke, and all of them far heavier than his previous work. In that sense, Attack on Memory is a break with Cloud Nothings' past, and one they're not shy about advertising; the album's first two songs are so different than what came before, they're almost unrecognizable. "No Future/No Past" builds from a hypnotic dirge into scorched-earth screaming that echoes In Utero's bleakest moments, while "Wasted Days"' nearly nine-minute excursion into self-loathing and band interplay is an even bigger departure. That Cloud Nothings pull off such big changes so well can be chalked up partly to Baldi's evolution as a songwriter, but also to the fact that this is the first album his live band has played on with him (and Steve Albini's production gives added impact to their blows). With this extra firepower, Baldi dives headlong into songs that capture those moments when ripping it up and starting again is the only choice, whether it's the caustic "No Sentiment" or "Our Plans"' more tuneful desperation. As strong as Attack on Memory's forays into heavier territory are, Cloud Nothings still sound more natural, and more versatile, when they serve up the fuzzed-out pop Baldi developed on his singles and first album. He sounds downright innocent on "Stay Useless"' pleas for breathing room, and anything but on "Cut You," where a singsong melody only slightly sweetens the curdled jealousy of lyrics like "Can he be as mean as me?/Can he cut you in your sleep?" At some point, it might do Cloud Nothings good to take stock of just how far they've come with every release, but Attack on Memory is another fine snapshot of a band that is growing and playing as fast as it can.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares