Sometimes it’s hard to get past our past. We think we’ve adjusted and moved on, grown as a person; but in quiet moments, we find our minds going back to that thing, that breakup or screwup, that we just can’t seem to forget. We realize that we’re pretty much the same person we’ve always been. For Dylan Baldi and Cloud Nothings, those moments are all over Here and Nowhere Else; though none of those moments are particularly quiet.
Started as a bedroom solo project of Baldi’s back in 2009, Cloud Nothings are now a full band with drummer Jayson Gerycz and bassist TJ Duke. They’ve taken their experience with Steve Albini on 2012’s Attack on Memory and produced a collection of hook-laden, at times almost hardcore anthems that see Baldi dealing with the lingering effects of things that happened in his past and the difficult process of personal growth.
On “Now Hear In,” a breakup has left him in kind of a daze (“I go outside and see all these things that should be real”). He struggles to feel something on “Psychic Trauma,” but “Nothing happens. I stay the same.” “Nothing changes” on “No Thoughts,” and Baldi is “Moving forward while I keep the past around me” on the seven-and-a-half minute noise jam “Pattern Walks.”
The album closes on a small note of hopefulness with single “I’m Not Part of Me.” On the track, Baldi is learning not to let the past drag him down (“I’m learning how to be here and nowhere else.”). Despite the progress, though, the song closes with the repeated “You’re the thought that’s haunting me.”
The Japandroids-worthy, upbeat sounding pop punk on Here and Nowhere Else provides some cover for the serious and introspective lyrics if you don’t want to dig too deep. Baldi’s pained yelp, though, lets you know that he’s digging deep, even if while you’re working up a sweat bouncing along with the music, pumping your fist in the air, and shouting along with the chorus.
Here and Nowhere Else is out now on Carpark Records.