Life Without Sound strikes that balance perfectly, while preserving the excitement of both the band’s 2014 live album and its 2015 collaboration album with Wavves. The piano riffs in the opening track, “Up to the Surface,” would suggest a move to high drama, but the remaining eight tracks offer high-energy guitars and even a bit of noisy dissonance. Bondi’s intriguing lyrics hew closer to existential angst than political topicality, but tracks like “Modern Act” seem tailor-made for 2017. The back catalog of Cloud Nothings has plenty to attract the neophyte, but Life Without Sound easily stands as the band’s definitive work to date.
Dylan Bondi of Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings has struggled through three previous studio albums to achieve the right balance of fast power-pop and emo angst, while attempting to keep his ‘90s references to Pavement and Weezer from becoming too obvious.