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Album Review: “Life Without Sound” by Cloud Nothings

Carpark+Records
Carpark Records

Carpark Records

Carpark Records

Noah Hunt, Editor in Chief

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Relaxation is a necessary thing for living, and yet it seems like an unattainable goal for so many. Stress has a funny way of compounding on top of itself until it’s impossible to see over a mountain of commitments, a menacing monolith of reminders that there is never enough time in the day. It comes as a shock, then, when something as simple as an album manages to not only ease stress, but presents a path towards relaxation. What’s even more surprising is when it comes from a band like Cloud Nothings.

For those unfamiliar with the group, Cloud Nothings started as a simple power-pop band centered around singer/guitarist Dylan Baldi before evolving into one of the most significant post-punk groups of the 21st century. Their music could be as dense as a jungle and as angular as a dodecahedron, moving along at breakneck tempos and throwing the listener around with tornadic force. But with “Life Without Sound,” Cloud Nothings finally seem at peace. Not to say that the band have lost any of their edge, but they present a new clarity of mind within their lyrics and music.

The album starts with Baldi essentially being born again as he sings “I know peace in the terror of the mind.” Most songs follow in similar fashion, with Baldi finally making peace with all the foes he had been battling for the last two albums. At the end of the album, however, Baldi finally makes note of one thing that eludes him: “I find it hard to realize my fate.”

That song (appropriately titled “Realize My Fate”) also presents a new direction for the band musically. It builds and builds on only a handful of chords before Baldi ushers in a new passage with a signature throat-shredding howl; drummer Jason Gerycz makes the most of this climax, delivering a series of intricate drum fills as hard-hitting as a “Street Fighter” combo.

However, the true summation of the album lies in the centerpiece “Modern Act.” The production is pristine, especially for a Cloud Nothings album; for once, the guitars sound clean, almost breezy, and Baldi sounds truly relaxed. The song goes through its verses and choruses, briefly dipping down into a bridge before ascending into a final triumphant shout-along of a chorus. But this triumph is different from previous albums. On “Life Without Sound,” the triumph comes not from winning the battle, but from realizing that you don’t have to fight anymore.

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Album Review: “Life Without Sound” by Cloud Nothings