If you listened to Dylan Baldi’s Cloud Nothings project a year ago, you wouldn’t have predicted anything like Attack on Memory. Back then, Cloud Nothings was an indie rock/alt-punk infusion, mixing rich, upbeat guitar lines from the likes of early Real Estate with the off-the-wall punk drums reminiscent of the Buzzcocks. Haunting singles like “Forget You All The Time” and “Should Have” highlighted Baldi’s haunting voice and memorable melodies. Later tracks were more deliberate in their punkiness, but still kept things positive and fun. Cloud Nothings self-titled is an excellent record, and Baldi didn’t necessarily need to change up his sound. So with only a year to pass, no one would have expected Attack on Memory to bring nearly the complete opposite.
Attack on Memory opens with “No Future/No Past“. The song is nearly five minutes of unnerving build towards a raucous and memorable climax that will stick in the back of your mind for a few days. The song’s lyrics deal with displacement and estrangement. The tune of the song alone makes you claustrophobic. One track in to the record, Baldi has tapped in to human emotions and feelings that he never touched on the first Cloud Nothings record. “Wasted Days” is a 3 and a half minute punk anthem with a 6 minute outro that you’ll probably need to listen to twice before you can begin to handle all the energy. The instrumental “Separation” is probably the most sprawling punk tune on the record, and it surges and pulls you in every direction. Attack on Memory is a rock record that we haven’t seen in the moderate indie scene for a very long time.
That’s not to say that the album is without its pop singles. “Fall In” will deservedly be the breadwinner and “Stay Useless” will very likely become a live favorite. But the true mastery in Attack on Memory is found in the ground that the album covers between track 1 and track 8. Baldi has found a more honest, more vulnerable, and more fearless place to be on this record, and it will be excited to see where he takes that direction on the next one.