Cloud Nothings is here to uncloud your mind
Cloud Nothings has released their newest album, The Shadow I Remember, which invites listeners to take an emotional, introspective journey into the band’s musings on self-identity. Although the album’s primary motif may be heavy, it was implemented with a refreshing positivity often absent in “deeper” subject matter. Composed of Dylan Baldi (vocals, guitar), Chris Brown (guitar), TJ Duke (bass) and Jayson Gerycz (drums), Cloud Nothings stands apart from the crowd simply by the energy they exude. Each and every song is fast-paced and electric—and though things may get repetitive at times— he band’s pure vitality is never-ending.
It may be difficult to discern through all the noise, but The Shadow I Remember is actually quite thought-provoking, at least from a lyrical standpoint. The motif of the album is true to its name, and as lead singer Dylan Baldi explores the inner workings of himself, so too does the listener. For instance, “Oslo” opens with a beautiful back-and-forth between the piano and guitar, and as tension builds in the songs Baldi questions “am I older now/ or am I just another age?/ am I at the end/ or will there be another change?” Little queries like these are scattered all across the album, which is probably what makes it so intriguing. The lyrics themselves feel like underdeveloped musings from a private journal, allowing for the record to feel more human and intimate.
In “Nara,” Baldi directly addresses the listener, asking “who do you wanna be/ what do you wanna go further for?” Though Baldi doesn’t feed people any answers to these questions, the acrobatic guitar and furious drums point the listener in an empowering direction. Typically albums with a motif like Cloud Nothings’ would fill one with existential dread, but the band expertly spins things in a more positive direction with their musical fervor. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, such as in “Am I Something,” when Baldi wonders “Well, it’s hard for me to say/ if I would do it all again/ for what purpose?” The instrumentation keeps things upbeat with crashing cymbals and a tight baseline—and even though the sentiment may seem dark—the band wants the listener to get in touch with their most authentic motivations.
Though there is a lot of lyrical depth to “Am I Something,” the instrumentation truly steals the show. It’s hard not to feel anything but jubilant when listening to the record, as the energy jam-packed in every beat seems limitless. Reminiscent of Yuck and Japandroids, Cloud Nothings evidently carry themselves spiritedly through their creative pursuits, and the listener can almost feel how fun it was creating the album. In “Nothing Without You,” Baldi slips from deep, stentorian vocals into a falsetto that almost echoes the reverb of the guitar, and an imperfect harmonization allows the song to feel like a live performance. Nothing is ever procedural, and with flares of guitar here and splashes of piano there, everything feels naturally put together. “The Spirit Of,” is more post-punk, and a roaring duo between the piano and guitar steals the spotlight as Baldi shouts “the spirit of.”
The entire album should just be a wall of sound, but the band’s technical mastery allows them to play with impossible agility that keeps everything afloat. Overall, The Shadow I Remember is an amazing piece of work, but the sound certainly got repetitive after a while. It may have been nice for a slower song or two to break up the uninterrupted exuberance, as Cloud Nothings certainly has the skill to create a more dynamic tracklist. Despite the repetitiveness, Cloud Nothings has truly mastered the ability to energize not only a room but the mind.