Attack On Memory
SCQ Rating: 81%
Cloud Nothings aren’t complicated, I keep insisting, but critiquing them on their own merits – removed from time and influences – somehow is. Only in 2012 could their new album, a rag-tag collection of adrenaline-fueled indie-rock, feel like a statement; a rebuttal aimed at our currently vaporous pinnacle of electro-rock nonsense. It isn’t that Attack On Memory doesn’t care about sounding good – after all, having Steve Albini on board pretty much negates any real punk sentiment – but it's Cloud Nothings’ defiance to the day’s tweaked trends that makes these eight songs so inviting.
Even on its own terms, Attack On Memory’s ambition gives preference to visceral intensity over considered musicianship. The extended breakdown and resurrection that lends to “Wasted Days”’ nine-minute trek sounds almost entirely improvised, spent mindlessly caterwauling and thrashing about, and it works on the premise that pretension destroys authenticity. Say what you will about the emo-tinged heartstrings being pulled on “Fall In” or “Stay Useless”, the two songs forming the LP’s pop-oriented centerpiece, but they’re honest representations of Cloud Nothings’ brash approach – tuneful and direct.
The rush of dissonant energy exuding from any single track on Attack On Memory grabs whatever dormant teenage brainwaves we’ve held onto and shellshocks them into submission. Like the last record that jolted me back to my rock-and-roll roots, The Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls In America, Cloud Nothings’ nihilistic indifference and sharp riffs provide a needed contrast to the pro-tooled habits of modern indie-rock.