Slightly defiantly, Dylan Baldi claims that recording with Steve Albini doesn't affect the sound of the album as much as some people say. Implying that he wants to take all the credit for the albums successes, he explains: “Every band goes in there with their own music and makes their own record. It's just made in the same room, so it's got a similar feel.” Be that as it may, “Attack On Memory” has the feel, the spirit, of purest Albini. On their first recording at the Electrical Audio studio, the Chicago producer has sharpened Cloud Nothings’ sound - making it abrasive and heavy – whilst maintaing the loquacious fizziness with which Baldi normally dresses the songs. Let's say that they've gone from bright colours to a range of grey, resulting in a rather radical transformation for the Cleveland band. A record that is substantially different from what they have delivered so far, the title says it all: “an attack on the memory of what people thought the band was.”
It is surprising. “Attack On Memory” is a work of rebirth, and that's what's so striking: a word like 'rebirth' from the lips of twenty year old. Furthermore, he dares to write about the passing of time, exposing theories about the teachings of the past. Although his manner is slightly hard, arguably it has to be for his voice to triumph - full of a cold fury that has him shout his head off at any given chance. Baldi destroys everything in his path, like a hurricane. Their elastic indie-pop has gone up a level - in order to stand on another, more dangerous stair - to a visceral kind of punk-rock, influenced by Baldi's fascination with the Wipers, Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath. In this way, they manage to lay their insides bare; presenting their most consistent and powerful repertoire. Rather than complex, it sounds naturally wild - with a fearlessness that will invigorate their upcoming live shows.
The album begins bitterly with “No Future/No Past”, only to continue with the tremendous “Wasted Days” - they give it all in nine minutes of burning rock (“I thought I would be more than this”). “Fall In”, “Stay Useless” (their most convincing song to date) and even “Our Plans” are filled with refreshing melodies, though they never stop revealing Baldi's will to sound aggressive, dangerously pushing the limits of his vocal chords. “Separation”, “No Sentiment”, “Our Plans” and the brighter “Cut You” form a flare of avant-punk, post-hardcore and noise - leaving everything in shambles, with their insolent guitars and obstinate drums. The latter is key: the boy is no longer on his own, he is surrounded by a group of musicians who he commands from the centre, but gives room to excel. He walks side by side with them, as if they had been brothers in loss all of their lives.
In spite of all the bad temper, nothing soils the acute, expressive power gained. At some points they remind us of giants - Nirvana, Slint – something previously un-seen with Cloud Nothings. Restrained in theory (eight songs, 33 minutes) yet torrential in practice, “Attack On Memory” is bloody and suggestive, it vomits rage, it calls for action. It's a deliciously demolishing piece of work, a stimulant to the youngsters pulling out their hair because they don't know what will become of them.