It’s far too early to contemplate a career arc for Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings, but anyone who’s followed the solo project-turned-band’s output since its 2011 full-length debut may be feeling a bit unsteady on their feet. Chalk it up to capricious youth instead of calculated change, but what began as lightweight, Anglo-tinted bedroom pop on the group’s debut quickly turned heavier and harder with 2012 breakthrough Attack On Memory. Emboldened by Wipers albums and enabled by engineer Steve Albini, Memory‘s particular assault came by way of nimble, needling guitars and, at times, a vocal turn toward an abrasive whine.
On Here and Nowhere Else Dylan Baldi’s vocals are more even-keeled but the guitars are pure id, an aggressive rush of growling, mid-level distortion double-tracked in all the sweet spots and ducking under rapid-fire drums. The results toe the line between Fat Wreck Chords pop-punk circa 1994 and something darker; minutes into “Pattern Walks,” the shredding begins to resemble Sonic Youth. Lyrics are, to be kind, less considered (somehow, every song seems to contain a variation on the line “I don’t know what you’re tryin’ to say”), and paired with the band’s headlong bashing, the only constant here is angst. With regard to the album title, it might be asked: Are we there yet? Considering the speed with which Cloud Nothings have evolved so far, it’s not likely.