Cloud Nothings – ‘Last Building Burning’

By Tom Walsh

From the very first moment of ‘Last Building Burning’, you are thrown into the chaos of a Cloud Nothings live performance. The raw, incendiary tones rip through the whirlwind of a half an hour packaged up as the Ohio indie rockers’ fifth studio album.

The latest offering presents a departure from 2017’s ‘Life Without Sound’ as the considered approach of their previous effort is replaced with a searing thrash crashing thud on each song. Tired of seeing many of his contemporaries move away from the heaviness that made them special, front man Dylan Baldi was keen to unleash the chaotic energy of Cloud Nothings once again.

‘Last Building Burning’ represents a band refusing to hold anything back. The subtle touches of previous records are blown away in favour of an onslaught of guitars, drum fills and rumbling bass notes, and Baldi’s vocals provide the guiding hand through the static that lies around it while matching the blurring pace through each track.

One thing does remain consistent with Cloud Nothings’ latest approach is that the opening song immediately hauls the listener in. ‘On An Edge’ is the perfect title for an introductory number and lives up to Baldi’s billing as “the craziest song we’ve ever done” as it explodes with screams and frantic drum beats.

There is barely time to regain any composure before the dueling notes of ‘Leave Him Now’ sound out. While ‘On An Edge’ was the gut punch to leave you on your knees, its immediate follow-up helps you back to your feet with a – dare you say it – pop melody and relatively uplifting lyrics as it points to looking after number one.

Baldi has described the feeling of being able to scream on a record again as a “joyous thing” and there is certainly a sense of catharsis throughout ‘Last Building Burning’. It feels like a record that has been made to exorcise some demons, to break off the shackles, and to rebel against the conformity of less aggressive output.

The reverb-filled guitar riffs that accompany the middle eight of ‘The Echo of the World’ provide a foreboding nod to what is to come as Baldi’s voice reverberates as if screaming into the abyss. Despite the fast-paced nature of this record, there is a moment of overindulgence when the perfectly crafted ‘Dissolution’ malaises into a bloated, noodling ten-minute wall of feedback.

Cloud Nothings haul it back with the excellent ‘So Right So Clean’, a sombre, meandering track where a disenfranchised Baldi relentlessly repeats “I wish I could I believe in your dream”. It is an ending that befits the record’s overall tone.

‘Last Building Burning’ is Cloud Nothings and Baldi at their furious best. It encapsulates everything that is so wonderful about screaming your lungs out into a microphone – long live the heaviness.

TOM WALSH

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