★★★

Two-and-a-half years ago, Cloud Nothings released their peak achievement. It was called Here And Nowhere Else, and it was scrubbed, and it was scratchy, and it was near-perfect – a lean, melodic serving of everything they’d been trying to do for almost half a decade. 

 

But such success has evidently left the group in a tricky place. Understandably, too – it’s always hard to decide what you’re meant to do after the universe has served you a happily ever after. Life Without Sound was always going to be a step backwards, if only because Here And Nowhere Else left the group standing on the edge of a precipice. The choice was death or a diminishment.

 

Not that Life Without Sound is bad by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just less, both in a practical and a thematic sense. Songs are much shorter, truncated down under the four-minute mark, and lyrics seem to point down rather than towards the sky as before. ‘Enter Entirely’, though relentlessly enjoyable, is almost slight, and even when choruses shine like pebbles, their lustre is oddly underwhelming.

 

Ultimately, though never a complete disappointment, Life Without Sound is the sound of a very good band leaning backwards, flinching desperately away from success.

Life Without Sound by Cloud Nothings is out now and available through Carpark.

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