Like music? Good. Like listening to music that makes you feel like a badass? You’ve come to the right album review. You might be able to tell I’m sort of excited about this album; two rigorously raw pre-release tracks in the form of ‘Stay Useless’ and ‘No Future/No Past’, and the knowledge that the whole album is produced by the enigmatic and straightforward Steve Albini kind of does that to a guy who grew up on a steady diet of 80s and 90s punk (cheers, dad).
Anybody coming into this album having listened to any previous Cloud Nothings material is in for a shock; I certainly was. It’s as if every band member managed to simply wake up one morning and announce “Alright, from this day forth a badass I shall be. I shall still dress like a hipster, though”. If you’d have told me a year ago that three guys from Cleveland would come up with a nine-minute song of absolute energy (‘Wasted Days’) that unfurls furiously over the course of the track I would’ve, well, I would’ve guffawed at least.
In terms of consistency, this album is out of wack – I’ll get greeted with a gloomy grunge end of the world cut (‘No Future/No Past’), only to see myself bop along to a cheery pop-punk cut a few minutes later (‘Fall In’, ‘Stay Useless’). Do I like this inconsistency? Quite frankly I don’t give a damn; each song on this album has something I can dig, and really that’s all I need to get into an album on a base level, huge overarching themes be damned. That being said, anybody who actually clicked when I mentioned Steve Albini – the track ‘No Sentiment’ is for you. The way the crazed producer is famed for letting the raw essences of the instruments being used seep through the mix in favour of any fancy vocal production flourish really shows on this track. Snares crack like they did on Pixies LPs Doolittle and Surfer Rosa; guitars wail away to the point where I actually started to think the reason for the solitary bare note and chords on the track was due to a lack of strings.
Simply put, this album has won me over, and here’s hoping anything else these guys come up with is just as raw, exciting and engaging as what I think is a contender for best album of the first quarter of 2012.