Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part One

13. Cloud Nothings
Here and Nowhere Else

Cloud Nothing's 2012 album Attack on Memory presented a thrilling contradiction: a lo-fi pop band wanting to become a band capable of loud, searing and dissonant guitar rock, and yet unable to leave their infatuation with pop behind. It worked; Attack on Memory turned the 180 degrees Dylan Baldi and his band were capable of. Two years later, with Here and Nowhere Else, they've only upped the distortion.

Here and Nowhere Else is similar to its predecessor in that it's a collection of loud, angry guitar rock, but further listening reveals a Cloud Nothings that have grown comfortable with the idea of reconciling their two extreme natures. Penultimate track "Pattern Walks" is the closest resemblance you'll find here to Attack on Memory highlight "Wasted Days," but it changes things up by ending in an explosion of sparkling guitar sounds that sounds more hopeful than nihilistic. Lead single "I'm Not Part of Me" is a fantastic example of Baldi's pop instincts at play, merging hooks and dissonance into a package that sounds worthy of being called their finest song to date. Here and Nowhere Else is ultimately an album that works best because it leaves certain contradictions unresolved — for the time being. (Jibril Yassin)