In late 2009, Cloud Nothings, a one-man band led by Dylan Baldi, an 18-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio, made a splash on the lo-fi pop scene thanks to a welter of releases on cassette, CD-ROM and 7-inch vinyl. The songs, later collected on last year's Turning On, heralded the arrival of a jangly power-pop savant with a gift for crafting hooks in a number of styles. The only problem was that they were recorded by Baldi alone, in a frenzied burst of activity in his parents' basement — and it sounded like it: all compressed dynamics and good ideas buried underneath three or four other good ideas.
Signed to Carpark in the U.S. and Wichita in Europe, Baldi decamped to Baltimore to record this debut album with Dan Deacon producer Chester Gwazda. Under Gwazda's wing, the gauze and overthinking from Turning On have largely been removed and Baldi's combination of The La's melodic sensibility, post-hardcore heartbroken adolescent vitriol, and a masculine spin on Shop Assistants/Heavenly-style twee punk is now front and center. Fans of the fuzz that enveloped Cloud Nothings' earlier recordings may be disappointed, but the end result of Gwazda's sandblasting is a ridiculously catchy, sprightly 28 minutes of vivacious, punkish pop pitched somewhere between Wavves and cuddlecore kingpins Crayon.