Published Jul 03, 2015After teasing their collaboration for several months, Wavves' Nathan Williams and Cloud Nothings' Dylan Baldi decided to drop No Life for Me with little fanfare. Yet its seemingly tossed off creative birth (all nine tracks came together over two ten-day recording sessions at Williams' house) belies the depth of the material.
At first blush, the collab seems like an odd match; Williams' production work with his brother Joel as beatmakers Sweet Valley has made increasing inroads into Wavves recorded material, whereas Baldi has embraced an anti-production aesthetic for Cloud Nothings. But both musicians front what are effectively one-man bands that pair early '90s guitar snarl with a strong sense for hooks, creating 21st-century loser anthems.
Sweet Valley get production credit, but the Williams boys recognize that in order for the collaboration to work, no single voice should dominate. As such, they deftly integrate each player's aesthetic into towering two- and three-minute blasts. They embrace Cloud Nothings' penchant for analog noise, but sculpt it using the digital layering techniques that have made Wavves' recent albums such fascinating listens. This fusion of styles filters through to the songs themselves — Williams and Baldi wrote seven of the nine tracks together and trade vocals throughout. The interplay reaches a sublime climax on "Hard to Find," as Williams delivers his trademark "woo-ooh-oohs" as Baldi repeatedly howls, "Gotta get away" with increasing urgency.
The drumless "Nothing Hurts," written by Baldi alone, finds the two musicians romanticizing loneliness. "I move ahead each day, and I will not be the same," they sing, before the song abruptly cuts out. It's a fitting end to a collaboration that finds each musician bringing out the best in the other. Like a punk rock Watch the Throne, No Life for Me finds two of the genre's leading lights working at the peak of their powers.