Cloud Nothings

Here and Nowhere Else

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Considering that Cloud Nothings sprang from Dylan Baldi's gloriously unruly teenage angst, it could be damning with faint praise to say that Here and Nowhere Else is his most considered set of songs yet. However, the album's maturity reveals itself in the attitude behind the music more than in the music itself. Baldi and company temper the tantrums of Attack on Memory just enough to tell a tale of personal and musical growth. Where that album was full of showy ambition and peaks and valleys, Here and Nowhere Else is a heads-down set of songs. From its rolling beat to Baldi's more relaxed vocals, "Now Hear In" sets the easier, more natural tone for the rest of the album. A few bravado moments remain, most notably "Pattern Walks," which could be a kissing cousin to Attack on Memory with its seven-minute length, tangled guitars, and ecstatic keyboards. Still, the band spends more time crafting the kind of hooky yet angry insights that have made their best songs special since the beginning; the sweet harmonies carry just as much weight as the heavy guitar, drums, and bass on songs like "Quieter Today," which could be the album's manifesto. John Congleton's hissy production borders on lo-fi, which is used too often as a signifier for deeply felt emotions. It actually works here, forcing listeners to crank up the volume and lean in to Baldi's screams. Here and Nowhere Else offers ample proof that Cloud Nothings aren't too mature and considered to really let it rip on "Just See Fear" and "Giving Into Seeing," both of which build to truly chaotic fury topped by Baldi's raw-throated howling (however, drummer Jayson Gerycz is the band's true MVP, driving the album's dramatic dynamic shifts with ease). Throughout these songs, the band examines the gulfs between people with the kind of furious apathy and emphatic ambivalence that makes them the heirs to '80s and '90s masters like the Replacements, Green Day, and Nirvana without seeming overly derivative. Here and Nowhere Else closes with "I'm Not Part of Me," which sings the praises of bridging those gulfs instead of burning bridges. It's a hopeful, if not exactly happy, ending to an album about being in it for the long haul. Call it sustainable punk -- the kind that doesn't need to burn out or fade away.

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