There’s a lot to unpack in Cloud Nothings’ singer Dylan Baldi saying he wanted to “capture the energy of the moment” on Last Building Burning. A shift from Life Without Sound in terms of aesthetic, Burning trades studio decency for unfiltered flesh. The band recorded the album in only eight days. Earnestness doesn’t sleep. The album, it's worth noting, was recorded with producer Randall Dunn, who has worked with Sunn O))).

Last Building Burning disregards any feelings of hesitation. Each song is attacked with the intensity of a band with an extra tank to burn. You’re not listening to a studio band; you’re listening to a live band lay down some tracks in a studio. You can almost taste the sweat in the air of the pit. Each track gets individual treatment; there’s not a blanket production. Balance and levels vary track, highlighting the DIY aesthetic. Throughout the album, dissonance is its own character, rattling its shackles, catching the eye of even the most positive hearts. Extended instrumental breaks pair with repetitions of lyrics/ phrases, showcasing the need to hold on to your mantras amid a world that falls so easily to its knees.

The opening track, ‘On an Edge’ is an onslaught from the first hit. But even with such a quick tempo, the track is not hurried. This type of chaos takes precision. Baldi’s vocals writhe on hot coals, knowing you won’t turn away. The next song, ‘Leave Him Now’, counters this by utilizing some of their pop sensibilities. The drum hits on 1 2 3 (rest on 4) during the chorus with the backing vocals riding in on top. There are times where it feels Baldi is holding back on the vocals to get a clearer sound. This push and pull between pastoral and guttural is reminiscent of bands like The Replacements. They are fully aware of their ability to write a catchy tune, but that’s not life.

On ‘In Shame’, Baldi chants, “They won’t remember my name/ I’ll be alone in my shame.” In ‘Offer an End’, he sings, “Sometimes the truth, it feels worse”. These are not flippant phrases, but truths that usually don’t make it outside the drunken 2:00 am talk in your friend’s cousin’s backyard. These tracks are about confronting these scenarios head on and sonically capturing the mess it is to be human in a world that often makes less sense the more you learn. In ‘Offer an End’, Cloud Nothings add to the haunting quality by throwing in dissonant sounds and feedback, a radio signal desperate to finally come in clear.

With only 8 tracks and being a full LP, ‘Dissolution’, track six, clocks in at nearly 11 minutes. It begins with layered guitars, intricately building and tearing down lines, but maintaining that melodic quality. Around the 2:45 mark, all hell breaks loose. Feedback and reverb slowly build with rattling cymbals, its glass and steel moaning beneath its own weight. The longer the song goes, the more the intensity builds. The drums begin crashing and tumbling, reverb and layering cracking the foundation. While not in free time, maintaining a beat is an afterthought. ‘Dissolution’ is the building burning and falling to the ground, the last of its kind, fighting with the last of its strength in one last stand. The band has said they miss a raw heaviness in their contemporaries.

The album closes out with ‘So Right So Clean’ leading into ‘Another Way of Life’. ‘Clean’ is the midtempo single. When heard out of the context of the album, its understandable why this track was chosen. Its catchy and is a necessary breather after the panic of ‘Dissolution’. It of course also fits in those raw moments when the veil is torn and the speakers are ready to blow.

On ‘Another Way’, Baldi sings, “I got to let go of the pressure I feel to outdo.” He acknowledges life takes time to heal. The song is a reassurance to the listener that this album and stories- the lifetimes- it holds, are a necessary release. The truth can be an unfortunate violence. On Last Building Burning, Cloud Nothings provide their take on a stripped back album. Belts were loosed, fingers bled, and there was probably some howling at the moon. But in a world so interconnected, you can’t forget the primal that’s in you still trying to make sense of it all- knowing a starry sky is the back drop to honeymooners and prisoners.