Originality is not Dylan Baldi’s, AKA Cloud Nothings, strong spot. Case in point, pick any song on Cloud Nothings’ debut and it probably won’t take you very long to think of another song with the exact same chord progression in a similar genre. Since the emergence of bands like Best Coast and Wavves, there has been a surge in rather nondescript acts breaking through. Best Coast has their craft down and has certainly put out some worthwhile music, but I still can’t seem to shake the feeling that this strand of indie rock has been veering dangerously close to lazy. These artists are not lazy in the sense that they don’t take their art seriously so much as they lack in imagination. Cloud Nothings is not without its strengths – namely crafting undeniable hooks – but it also brings very little to the table that you haven’t heard before.
If you’ve heard any of Cloud Nothings’ prior recordings, the first thing that’s immediately noticeable about Baldi’s first official full-length is how cleaned up the sound is by comparison. The newfound clarity certainly highlights Baldi’s strengths as a songwriter, namely his attention to detail. Little facets like bass hooks, harmonies, and memorable lead riffs are much more distinguishable. The “aahs” and harmonies on “Should Have” are so subtle, they’re easily missed on a cursory listen – and would certainly have been rendered inaudible in muddier production – but they’re ultimately the song’s greatest draw. From “Rock’s” shout along chorus to the voice cracks and vocal ticks on “You’re Not That Good at Anything,” Baldi’s spirited performances make the album more emotionally satisfying. In addition, “Nothing’s Wrong” sounds excitably sped up, making it a joyous romp.
Even given the album’s strong points, it nearly exhausts its seemingly succinct 28-minute running time. It’s certainly enjoyable, but there is just so little to distinguish each track from the next that things get a bit repetitive real quick. When Baldi branches out a little, it ends up being a huge boon. “Not Important” starts out with the same ferocity as many of the album’s tracks, but unleashes a beautiful wordless, reverb-drenched coda. It kind of makes the listener wish Baldi had just taken a few more opportunities to try out some fresh ideas.
So ultimately, Cloud Nothings probably isn’t an album you need to own. Chances are if you’re a Treble regular, you probably have something pretty similar in your collection already. That said, if you are in need of a lo-fi pop-punk fix, Cloud Nothings certainly has what it takes to take care of that. The band keeps it simple, direct and to the point and there’s certainly something to be said for that. Sometimes that’s all you really need.
Listen: Cloud Nothings: MySpace