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While young Dylan Baldi - aka Cloud Nothings - may seem to fit into the presently over-saturated childish guitar noise bracket, it's the sheer joie de vivre of his power-pop centric debut that could well mark it as one of this year's finest discoveries.
As soon as the drum beat collides into the shreds of radio stained guitars on ‘Understand At All’, it’s plain to see that pondering is not a part of Baldi's remit. A brief interlude from the force of the melodic bass allows him to vocally ache his sorrows away, sounding as much the backpacked boy extra of Glee exorcising his faux angst as humanly possible. It seamlessly segues into the joyous ride of ‘Not Important’, with Baldi conjuring a filmic lick of guitar as if it was soundtracking his mad dash away from some childish caper. ‘Should Have’ may play on that same level of sonic tomfoolery, but its introvert (and almost indecipherable) vocal musings display Baldi as more than just an adolescent neighbour botherer in his bedroom.
But these days that noun, ‘bedroom’, connotes a scene that this album doesn’t pander to in any way. If anything, you’d be more likely to have found Baldi throwing himself to Green Day’s ‘Kerplunk’ or abiding by the law of Victor Villareal’s Cap’n Jazz guitar swing than pondering which Hall and Oate’s sample to pilfer next. It’s why the solemn nature of ‘Should Have’ and its partner track ‘Forget You All The Time’ fit so well, despite musically meandering from the relentless sweetness of the rest. What Baldi has created is a great snapshot of American adolescent life at its dreamy best - or at least, an idealised version of American adolescent life at its dreamy best.
‘Heartbeat’ swaggers proceedings back into the sped-up groove through some re-imagined saloon door heroics, Baldi emphatically declaring "I don’t have a heartbeat / Why do you?". It’s a perfect way to go back to the childishly charming offensive of his less-than-three minute sugar rushes, with the closing trifecta encapsulating everything that has preceded it with a renewed sense of almost anthemic melody. ‘Been Through’ sees Baldi cry “nothing’s working” before coming to a resolute statement of “We’re getting older now!” - facile as it may seem, such a simple statement is nothing if not hopelessly romantic - whilst closer ‘All The Time’ takes a near- Blink 182 style catharsis through to a saccharine, heart-thumping ending.
So it may not be a timeless classic - much like a lot of his immediately great yet throwaway peers - but for all Baldi’s youthful exuberance, he's proven himself an honest and remarkably mature set of hands.
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- In Photos: Primavera Sound Festival 2011 @ Parc del Forum, Barcelona