In 2010, a then teenage Dylan Baldi wooed all us music-types with a spate of lo-fi, grungy pop EPs recorded in his bedroom under the moniker of Cloud Nothings. Since then, he’s successfully kept our attention with numerous tours, and a slightly shinier, but still charmingly slap-dash debut full-length in 2011, alongside triumphantly moving out of his Mum’s house, and turning the big two-zero. Now, with the first month of 2012 barely past us by, Baldi is back, grimier, seemingly angrier, and this time with a full band behind him, to assault our ears with a second album - Attack on Memory

The first thing that’s immediately striking about Attack on Memory is the departure from the more pop sensibility of the previous releases. After a deceptive bar or two of delicate piano, opener ‘No Future, No Past’ wades through the majority of its four and a half minutes with plodding bass, and abundance of cymbal, and a vocal line that boasts all the optimism of an attractive teenager who has just realised her life is a part of the latest instalment of the ‘Final Destination’ franchise. When what would be the chorus, were this a traditionally structured pop song, finally kicks in, Baldi’s pleasingly repetitive shriek of the song’s title leads the track into something like what Real Estate might sound like if they were all simultaneously dumped by their girlfriends, given a good slapping, and told that not even their mothers loved them; which, actually, is a reasonably accurate description of the sound of the album as a whole.

None of this, though, is really criticism. It may not be the most buoyant, and care-free sounding record, but if we wanted that, there’s plenty of disgustingly cheerful chart-topping pop to go around. Which is, I’m sure, not really what Cloud Nothings were shooting for - especially given their choice of lord-of-the-grit, Steve Albini (of Nirvana/The Pixies/PJ Harvey fame) as producer. What this album does do, however, is provide a slice of satisfyingly angst-y, yet heartfelt head-bang-along-to-when-you’ve-had-a-really-bad-day kind of filthy pop music, with no shortage of powerful percussion and raw, scream-y guitars. 

After almost nine minutes of ‘Wasted Days’, which consists largely of a distortion drenched, thundering instrumental mid-section, it’s hard not to get what this album is about. And if you were left wondering, the rising screams bewailing "I thought/I would/be more/than this" at the end of the track will almost certainly sort you out.

Don’t, however, believe this is an album of all doom and gloom. Largely it is, but there are moments of lighter feeling which permeate the album’s just over half-hour run time, most notably the almost Jimmy Eat Word-esque harmonies which begin ‘Fall In’, and the agreeably upbeat chorus of ‘Stay Useless’, which provide something of a respite, before the dark crashes of pessimistic thunder return for ‘No Sentiment’. 

Essentially then, Attack on Memory is the sound of uneasy youth perfectly transposed on to half an hour of experimentally-structured, rough-edged, thudding, lo-fi pop, competently covering the spectrum of emotions between utter self-loathing, and glimmer-glimmer-of-hope-in-the-dark, except with a whole lot more charm than that description might lead you to believe. This new darker and screechy-er rendering of Cloud Nothings may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly something a bit affable to try out if you’re feeling particularly scream-y and a little bit teenage, but don’t want to resort to Enter Shakari just yet.