Lo-fi rockers Wavves and Cloud Nothing’s combine diverse influences on new record

Matt Robertson

Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi and Wavves lead singer Nathan Williams didn’t record their latest album, No Life For Me, to produce hit singles or follow a cohesive sound — and listeners looking for either are sure to be disappointed.

The album, released Monday, is the product of two of the biggest names to come from the lo-fi punk crowd in years. Since 2000 and 2008, respectively, Baldi and Williams have grown from one-man projects recording in their homes to full-fledged touring bands.

But No Life For Me harkens to the pair’s olden days, having recorded the album at Williams’ home in two sessions.

 

With the lo-fi production values and variety of styles showcased on this album, the two approached the album in a more organic fashion. It plays as an evolution of their earlier work, a direction they may have gone if they were still making music alone without label guidance.

Audiences’ reception of this project will depend entirely on their expectations. The album shouldn’t be viewed as something polished and designed to sell but as a statement about the type of music Baldi and Williams want to be making at this point in their careers.

In an interview with Pitchfork, Baldi said "Over-thinking is the most dangerous thing for me. If I start with something very simple and build on that, the result is much more true to myself. And being true and real is the most important thing to me."

This isn’t an album they made with a calling, but just a record  made by friends who wanted to create music that encompassed their influences ranging from punk to goth to surf. At times, this makes for songs that are upbeat and inspired, but can leave listeners searching for a solid perspective.

All tracks on the album were co-written by Williams and Baldi, except for the closing pair, which they took as a chance to make their individual statements. The Williams-penned “Such a Drag” lacks the lyrical depth of Baldi’s work but uses Williams’ nihilistic slacker attitude to make one of the more entertaining tracks on the record. The song is reminiscent of his most recent solo album, Afraid of Heights, and will likely be a fan favorite.

Baldi’s heavily emo-influenced closer, “Nothing Hurts,” is a short but important track, providing a sincerity that isn’t found elsewhere on the record. It balances out Williams’ tendency to veer toward the immature and ends the otherwise brash album on a calm, introspective note.

Only one song succeeds in combining the two artist’s sound into a unified effort; “Come Down” takes Baldi’s knack for catchy lyricism and combines it with Williams’ bedroom experimentation to create the most memorable song on the album.

In contrast, the album’s fourth track, “Hard to Find,“ is a low point, sounding less like two artists left alone to create their best work and more like friends aimlessly jamming in their parents garage.

Although this album doesn’t shy away from experimentation, listeners without an affinity for either artist will likely find the record too convoluted and directionless to be appreciated.

But listening through, it's easy to realize that Baldi and Williams didn’t make No Life For Me to gain new fans or sell records, but rather, they made it purely for themselves.

Album: No Life For Me

Artists: Wavves/Cloud Nothings

Tracks: 9

Rating: 7/10