I Meant To Listen To: Cloud Nothings, “Attack On Memory”

In my last post I coined the phrase “aggressively present”, and there might not be a better song (or title) to describe that feeling than No Future/No Past, the brooding and bruising first track on Cloud Nothings 2012 album, Attack On Memory.

Within the opening seconds of No Future/No Past, the listener is taken on a troublesome journey. The guitar picking and raspy vocals have a deliberate, shaky emotion to them and a feeling of unsureness begins to take hold. Suddenly, the bass and drums quickly grab you and strap you into your seat, ensuring you that this is a ride that you cannot escape.

And this is just the first few moments of the song.

When the song reaches it’s breaking point and vocalist Dylan Baldi repeatedly screams the title, you cannot help but take those words to heart. There is no future and no past; it is just this moment and it should be attacked head-on.

This is the theme for this album, for certain. Moments of trepidation teamed with a call to action. Chaotic, driven, and after revisiting all these years later, an album that beautifully represents the year it was released, 2012.

2012 was a particularly memorable year for me personally and most of it had nothing to do with the end of the Mayan calendar. It was the year I turned thirty years old, an age that I assume most people begin to fear once they turn twenty-two. It was also the year where the longest relationship I had up to that point in my life had ended. Without getting into any details, it too felt chaotic and the year that followed took me on a journey that required me to look inward if I wanted to make any positive strides moving forward.

If I were to put some of these moments from that time in my life to music the result would sound a lot like this album. Sometimes it takes re-evaluating the situation to truly understand the weight of our actions. At the time, I was ready to tackle my thirties with the same attitude I had in my twenties. I figured things would just work themselves out and that everything would click. Things didn’t click in so much as they fell with a thud.

When I had first listened to Attack On Memory, I enjoyed the musicality and how it struck the right balance of punk with pop sensibilities. It took listening again six years later to truly grasp how fantastic this album is. Revisiting showed me another side to songs such as “Our Plans” and “Fall In”, where once I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics I can feel the emotion slice like a paper cut.

I am now listening to this album and can feel myself go back to where I was in 2012. All the confidence I thought I had was apparently just held together with dental floss and used scotch tape. Stay Useless, one of my favorite tracks, has these lyrics “How can I feel so utterly unreal? Like nothing I could do would make things change”, and I wish I could gift wrap them and give it to the me then. Hell, the version of me twenty years ago could have used the help as well.

Attack On Memory, while being a personal time capsule for me, is a wonderful rock record that commands your attention and should be in your collection.

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