Cloud Nothings – Final Summer Album Review

Cloud Nothings’ latest album released on April 19


Like most Cloud Nothings albums, Final Summer is very brief. 

The twenty-nine minutes that span Final Summer offer hardly any respite from constant energy and gritty angst. Yet this angst presents itself as something that can be a cathartic and melodically joyous listen. Cloud Nothings present potent pop melodies that, combined with lyrics filled with longing, nostalgia, and a sense of growing up that could be written by a 17-year-old, or, in this case, a 33-year-old. 

The opening minutes of the album establish a synth landscape that introduces sonic elements previously unheard in other Cloud Nothings releases. However, as the guitars, bass, and drums are introduced into the fold, the new and comparatively experimental blends and eventually gives way to the familiarity of earlier Cloud Nothings’ material. 

The title track that kicks off the album also serves as a lyrical foretelling of what the rest of the album has to offer. Like the power pop records that precede it, such as the likes of Big Star, it intertwines themes of impending dread of growing up — “Coming into final summer/ What’s the use of trying?” — with more hopeful visions of companionship and the ability to express one’s own fulfillment of life once fully realized — “Fill yourself with color/ Oh I have some thoughts / Oh I have some dreams.” 

Cloud Nothings (photo credit: Chad Butler)

The succeeding nine tracks combine pop melodies and choruses, with a post-punk distortion and riveting Sonic Youth-esque drum fills that conjure up images of teenagers in Chuck Taylors moshing in a cramped garage. These post-punk sounds, which were ever present in their first couple of albums, combined with grunge attitudes come as a return to form for Cloud Nothings. 

The little respite from the feverish indie-punk that the album provides comes at the tail end of “Mouse Policy,” presumably a nod to Modest Mouse, since it sounds similar to “Dramamine” or the looser, jammier sections of “Trucker’s Atlas.” While it doesn’t segue perfectly into the following track, “Silence,” it maintains the softer, albeit still distorted and fuzzy, sound that separates itself from the rest of the album. The lyrics reflect the generational dread of an ever increasingly dying planet, and making the most of the time on earth that we have left. 

Yet with no short supply of dire lyrics such as these, the album’s melodic and familiar structure, delirious pace, and lyrical visions of adolescence and youthful longing make the record not just an incredibly listenable one, but one that anyone could turn to again and again. The album exemplifies what Cloud Nothings have been so great at for the last decade: creating an all killer, no filler record that doesn’t ask much from it’s listener and gives them something familiar, yet fresh, with a few surprises here and there that helps this record stand out from the rest in the Cloud Nothings discography. It reminds you of the simultaneous joy and sorrow that has been, while keeping you anticipating what’s to come. 

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