If you were waiting for something really new from Cloud Nothings, then “Life Without Sound” is what you need right now. Their fifth work published on January 27th for Carpark Records and Wichita Recordings was produced by sound engineer John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Death Cab For Cutie) in El Paso in 2016.
Everything began when Baldi moved back to Cleveland after a few years abroad: his once hated hometown which originally inspired his unrestrained desire of escaping that fulfilled his early albums now doesn’t seem to look so bad anymore. As he tells SPIN during a phone interview “I’m not sure what happened over the span of eight months”-“everyone seems happier”.
Don’t panic: Dylan Baldi is still the boy who plays guitar in his parents’ basement channeling his frustrations in music, but he looks like he actually found the way out, the light in the dark, declaring “I don’t think I’ve wasted my life anymore”. His music reflects his growth of course and the result is a 35-minutes work in which adolescence anxieties and mature optimism, punk rock guitars and pop rhythms coexist and fight each other at the same time. Even if part of him still feels 18, adulthood or at least maturity is coming through, so that the boy who became popular singing No future/No past has now got both of them inside himself.
Life Without Sound opens with “Up to the surface” which gives us fragmented pictures of something like a physical shipwreck or a metaphor for the rebirth of the soul: “I came up to the surface/Released the air” “I saw life in the shadows/On foreign lines/I knew peace in the terror/There was a night of woe away/A row of islands go ablaze/The sun circled ’round the end/In darkness I’ve evolved again”
The atmosphere overturns in the light-heartedness of “Things are right with you“, in the weezerian lullaby “Internal World” and “Darkened Rings”.
In “Enter entirely” the highest point of the record is reached, exactly at the middle of the album: it is the heart and the soul that resumes it all. The guitar in the background follows and interacts with Dylan’s voice and mood, as well as in the following melody of Modern act. The last track works as a crystal clear conclusion: “A believe in something bigger but what I can’t articulate/I find it hard to realize my fate”. The whole album is filled with the old punk/noise rock sounds of the guitars (a second guitar was added for this project) which actually lead and mark it out, sometimes matching, sometimes contrasting each other and Goodmanson’s experience kicked in achieving a clearer, purer sound.
To sum up, Life without sound appears as part of a “coming-of-age story” in which the main character speaks about himself in first-person, realizing that he was missing something important in his life, a part he didn’t realize he was missing until it’s there-hence the title. Despite it’s incredibly pop soul Life Without Sound ends up being a fully mature post punk work, a great example of an artist (and now a very close band) who has followed his own path without ever missing his true self.