Dylan Baldi matures from his scuzzy lo-fi origins with pop nous and fizzy hooks intact
Just over a year ago, 19-year-old [b]Dylan Baldi[/b] was studying sax and audio recording in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Unlike most first year students cry-wanking over Facebook or smoking crystal meth through the arsehole of a cat, Dylan did more with his time out. He recorded a succession of singles and EPs in his parents’ basement through a single mic and home computer that would form a rough demo album in 2010’s [b]‘Turning On’[/b].
Along with everything else last year that was branded ‘lo-fi’ or ‘scuzzy’, the blogosphere tossed itself dry over the one-man band. [b]‘Turning On’[/b] did, however sound like it had been recorded in a drink can with tin-pot instruments and sung through a snorkel. But for all its technical shortcomings, it did map out a blueprint of latent pop gems – albeit in the manner of a Crayola on a fag packet.
Baldi’s debut album proper, titled under his moniker [a]Cloud Nothings[/a], has made his scribbles and mumblings more audible. Moreover, his ear for a hook and a holler filters through with detail beyond the debris of white noise that plagued his home recordings.
The result is a fun, frenetic and crisp debut that is more resplendent than his lo-fi scuzz. [b]‘Understand At All’[/b] and [b]‘Not Important’[/b] burst through the door like gunmen with jittery fingers, as snare drums snap against unhinged guitar hooks akin to the [a]Buzzcocks[/a]. [b]‘Should Have’[/b] cuts a similarly bouncy intro to that of [a]Pixies[/a]’ [b]‘The Holiday Song’[/b], as [a]‘Rock’[/a] bites like a rabid [b]Jake Burns[/b] of [a]Stiff Little Fingers[/a] grimacing over [b]‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’[/b]. There are moments when [b]‘Cloud Nothings’[/b] sounds like your average punk-pop record, but Baldi is willing to render outside the lines with his own idiosyncratic noodlings and daubs of C86-era colour.
[b]Thomas A Ward[/b]
Click here to get your copy of Cloud Nothings’ ‘Cloud Nothings’ from Rough Trade Shops.
7 out of 10