Cloud Nothings 2024
Photo: Errick Easterday / Let's Go Publicity

Cloud Nothings’ ‘Final Summer’ Is a Masterclass in Indie Rock

Cloud Nothings have delivered record after record of catchy, energetic songs without getting stale or repetitive. Final Summer continues that streak.

Final Summer
Cloud Nothings
Pure Noise Records
19 April 2024

Few indie rock bands this century have been able to make one banger after another. Many flavors of the month have fallen off, broken up, or both. But for the past 15 or so years, Cloud Nothings have delivered record after record of catchy, energetic songs without getting stale or repetitive. While that might not get headlines every time, there’s something to be said for their ability to continue delivering hook-filled records with intelligent, sometimes heart-rending lyrics.

The latest installment is Final Summer, and the streak remains unbroken. Saying a group’s latest release is more of the same sounds like a backhanded compliment, but Cloud Nothings don’t have to reinvent themselves every time out. There is no need to fix what isn’t broken.

There is a self-assuredness in the slight tinkering with their sound, and while there are no stylistic leaps or surprises, the additions all work. The opener and title track begins with synths and builds to a big, melodic chorus. Another new wrinkle is a series of J. Mascis-inspired guitar solos on “Thank Me for Playing”, “Silence”, and “I’ll Get Along”. Final Summer is also elevated by the thick production by Jeff Zeigler and mixing by Sarah Tudzin. It is easily one of their best-sounding records. Songs like “On the Chain” will sound great cranked with the windows down this spring or heard live on a balmy summer evening.

Several top-shelf records have themes of mental health, detailing struggles won and truths without filters. On this record, lead singer Dylan Baldi’s stated mission is not to detail pain and suffering but to chart his daily wins and losses to keep reaching for better out of a place of contentment. The last lines of the title track sum up the sentiment perfectly: “But I need to be happy / With what I’ve got for me.” From a jog through a nearby campus to a battle of wits with a mouse on the highlight “Mouse Policy”, songs cover everyday topics in a way that celebrates the everyday. That is never more succinct than “I’d Get Along”, which has two lines and Baldi screams the titular line as though he’s trying to make something terrible back down. Pair Final Summer with Mannequin Pussy‘s I Got Heaven for a double dose of resolve and renewal that would make Tony Robbins start a circle pit.

A killer closing track is a Cloud Nothings tradition, from Here and Nowhere Else’s “I’m Not Part of Me” to Last Building Burning’s “Another Way of Life”. This time out, “Common Mistake” provides some useful advice for living: “This is your life / It’s a common mistake / You’ll be alright / Just give more than you take.” It sounds like a re-energizing chat with a trusted friend rather than a rip-roaring declaration.

It can become easy to take bands like Cloud Nothings for granted. They are past the buzzed-about phase, proving they aren’t a one-hit wonder. They mastered the follow-up to the breakthrough, explored more polished production, and set aside the noise epics like “Wasted Days” and “Dissolution” (at least on record). Every couple of years, they deliver eight or ten endlessly catchy and replayable songs that might meet you where you are in life or, in this case, might inspire you to pause and reflect on what’s going right. There will always be a welcome space for groups who take a signature sound and continue to perfect it, and when it all comes together as effortlessly as it does on Final Summer, it is worth calling attention.  

RATING 8 / 10