Review: Cloud Nothings at Glasslands

For the past several years songwriter Dylan Baldi was making likable but slight bedroom pop recordings under the name Cloud Nothings. Like many of his peers in the so-called chillwave and/or lo-fi scene, Baldi had clear songwriting talent, but seemed to hide behind cheap recordings and affected disaffection (or, if you prefer, calculated laziness) to imply feelings his performance wouldn't commit to.

That changed on his this year's Attack on Memory, which was recorded with Pixies/Nirvana legend Steve Albini. Baldi and his touring band sound committed and energetic on record, incinerating any questions about his sincerity in a blast of feedback.

Said sincerity and commitment was on display at Cloud Nothings appearance at Glasslands Wednesday night, though the performance did show that 20-year-old Baldi is still a work in progress.

Baldi has a fine, adenoidal voice that perfectly matches the yearning and carping of his lyrics, but it was often completely buried by the wall of sustained fuzz and relentless drumming last night.

Some of that is due to the venue; for all its low-key charm Glasslands is not known for pristine sound. But some of the washed-out vocals seemed to indicate that, for as much as Baldi has grown comfortable relying on more assertive guitars, he is still getting used to projecting himself out as a frontman. 

Luckily, the music could do the talking for him. Largely ignoring any previous output and running through Attack in total, Cloud Nothings sounded like a band and not a project Wednesday night.

They were heavy enough to do batter the crowd, but  they didn't bury the sharp hooks that made Attack so appealing. Credit goes to secret weapon drummer Jayson Gerycz, a hyperactive player who never let the energy flag and was a whirlwind of motion compared to the frontman's stand-still-and-play-the-song approach.

The highlight of the night was "Wasted Days," which featured a five-minute instrumental build that saw Baldi put his guitar down and kneel by his pedals, coaxing an ever-increasing stream of feedback until delivering the song's closing refrain "I thought/I would/be more than this!"  The crowd spit back every word of this self-laceration, but based on their enthusiasm he doesn't really need to beat himself up so much. 

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