Album Review: Cloud Nothings - Cloud Nothings (Wichita)

Dylan Baldi matures from his scuzzy lo-fi origins with pop nous and fizzy hooks intact

Just over a year ago, 19-year-old Dylan Baldi 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 ‘Turning On’.

Along with everything else last year that was branded ‘lo-fi’ or ‘scuzzy’, the blogosphere tossed itself dry over the one-man band. ‘Turning On’ 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 Cloud Nothings, 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. ‘Understand At All’ and ‘Not Important’ burst through the door like gunmen with jittery fingers, as snare drums snap against unhinged guitar hooks akin to the Buzzcocks. ‘Should Have’ cuts a similarly bouncy intro to that of Pixies‘The Holiday Song’, as ‘Rock’ bites like a rabid Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers grimacing over ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’. There are moments when ‘Cloud Nothings’ 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.

Thomas A Ward

Click here to get your copy of Cloud Nothings' 'Cloud Nothings' from Rough Trade Shops.

7 out of 10
Cloud Nothings - 'Understand At All' (Live Session Video Exclusive)
Video: Cloud Nothings - 'Understand At All' (Live Session Video Exclusive)

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