The biog of Dylan Baldi (aka Cloud Nothings) on Last.fm extends to all of seven words: “18 years young. Pop music. Cleveland OH”. Succintly accurate if somewhat lacking in colour or expansive detail.
Cloud Nothings plays lo-fi basement pop - his parents’ basement to be exact. There is plenty of this stuff about and a brief disinterested listen might not immediately hook you into Cloud Nothings - like the above slim and uninformative biog perhaps? However perseverance is recommended.
What you will find is not unlike Wavves – taut, frazzled, two-minute guitar workouts but shorn of the abrasive distortion (mostly), the overdriven volume and the beach references. Cloud Nothings still does noisy – the vampire-heroin-addict tale of ‘I Am Rooftop’ is closer to the heavy and unhinged garage-rock of Times New Viking – but where he succeeds best is those moments where sonic clarity is not overly sacrificed and when the pop hooks shine through. Opening pair ‘Can’t Stay Awake’ and ‘Old Street’ are firmly in this camp - punkish energy counterpointed by college-rock melodies. Elsewhere the vocals maybe be murmured on ‘You Are Opening’ but the catchy bassline intro is pristine and soulful. ‘Turning On’ repeats the trick – lightly brushed drums and bass are crystal clear, the guitar and voice over this only gently distorted and the whole has a woozy sunshine rise-and-fall. ‘Hey Cool Kids’ muddies things up again but possesses just the right amount of lip-curl slacker-disdain to win over. And ‘Morgan’ is racing power-pop as jumbled lyrics and frantic guitar try to outpace each other, only pausing for the occasional surreal spoken word intervention (“Arthur Conan Doyle”?).
"Turning On" is a hugely likeable fizzying ball of energy - but not consistently so. Its flaws are exposed by its origins: it is a compilation of an EP, a single and some cassette-only releases, all the product of a prolific twelve month outpouring. So listening I want to break it back down into its constituent parts and cherish the brief rush of a vinyl single or enjoy the tape hiss setting as a Cloud Nothings song leaps out of a mixtape. Sometimes the sum is not greater than the parts.
Not necessarily a cohesive whole, there are still plenty more hits than misses here, a healthy sprinking of infectious scuzz-pop gems. And Baldi is already recording his first album proper due early next year. If can translate the momentum he has generated thus far on individual songs and singles into a full-length format, now that could be an album that really turns heads.
Cloud Nothings is touring the UK in a double header with Scottish indie-poppers Veronica Falls. A clever pairing and well worth heading out to Brighton, Bristol, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh to catch. The Manchester date is 9 November at the Deaf Institute. Further UK dates for Cloud Nothings supporting Les Savy Fav are here.
Clound Nothings - Turning On by FollyOfYouth