Life Without Sound Album Review
Released January 27, 2017
Genre: Indie Rock, Noise Rock, Punk Rock
Baldi & Co. return with another record, pushing forward with the noise rock outlet known as Cloud Nothings. Here, the band focuses more on lyricism – just barely shifting their sound away from pop punk and deeper into standard indie rock and noise rock. There are still hooks, but Baldi uses Life Without Sound to focus more on themes – contemplating on loneliness, desperation, finding a purpose in life – while also smoothing out the edges that made Here And Nowhere Else such a raucous and chaotic listen. The shift from John Congleton to John Goodmanson on production adds long gestating swells that pit bass lines against drum breaks, guitar chords against Baldi’s vocals – a tense and envigorating listen that shows Cloud Nothings can craft these arcs within their songs that can help make even the angstiest phrase feel much more important to everyone.
“Up To The Surface” opens with a rather dismal piano lead, before Baldi’s voice comes in with restraint; the song then builds before becoming a typhoon swirl of sound and noise around the three-minute mark. The screeching guitars on “Things Are Right With You” is by-the-books Cloud Nothings, but feels just as invigorating and electrifying as anything they’ve ever put out. Jayson Gerycz’s drumming perfectly seperates these tunes into different acts, poising obvious emotional quips to crash and rise at the perfect time, elevating each moment to a peak of punk catharsis. “Internal World” shreds; “Darkened Rings” pummels; and “Modern Act” combines a memorable hook with pitch-perfect instrumentation. It’s the indie rock record to accompany those still reeling in the angst and malaise of growing up.
Baldi falters however, sadly in the last two tracks. “Strange Year” is wonderfully noisy, but horrendously clunky. Baldi’s sloppy vocal performance fail to effectively translate the mood the band tries to convey. “Realize My Fate” is a furious slow build, that begins stagnant, and ends burned out to a crisp. Despite these detriments, Baldi pulls together a good record that should keep those yearning for a rock record in 2017 entertained. His vocal performance has the perfect combination of confidence and fragility; the mere fact that he puts himself out there is the shining light of Cloud Nothings, and is what keeps me (and fans everywhere) coming back for more.
Life Without Sound is Cloud Nothings’ most reflective record, with confidence and verve. While it may not be their defining record, the roots are still there; what matters is if Baldi’s lyrics remain moving and inspiration. If you listen closely, there’s line or two in here that will make you smile to yourself, happy that Baldi is out there writing the next great Cloud Nothings record.
FAV TRACKS: Up To The Surface, Things Are Right With You, Internal World, Modern Act
LEAST FAV TRACK: Strange Year