Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings have been both raised by, and limited by, their clear influences. When they broke through in 2012 with Attack On Memory (QRO review), they were rightly hailed for breathing new life into indie-rock – but also rightly noted for benefiting from sounding like older bands that you already loved. 2014 follow-up Here and Nowhere Else (QRO review) was strong, but clearly stood in Memory’s shadow. Now comes Life Without Sound, which keeps them at the forefront of the current ‘rock revival’.
More so than prior records, Life mixes Cloud Nothings’ speed with slower tempos, from the wistful opener “Up to the Surface” to the grinding procession of closer “Realize My Fate”. This allows the band to evoke more, but it’s still the power-punk action of songs such as “Darkened Rings” that are the band’s best. Similarly, while they can do wistful punk (“Enter Entirely”), their calls to uplift (the subsequent “Modern Act”) are stronger. Cloud Nothings have grown from a band that just sounds like bands you used to love, but you still love them most when they sound like bands that you used to love.
Even Life Without Sound’s release date puts Cloud Nothings in a larger category, coming the same day as fellow power-punk ‘bringing rock back’ Japandroids with Near To the Wild Heart of Life (QRO review). But even if others heavily influence Cloud Nothings, the band uses their influences well.