Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-03-02


Cloud Nothings: Attack on Memory (Carpark, 2012) Although his voice is lower and his guitar solos are longer, the idea that Dylan Baldi has therefore achieved some sort of maturity is silly. Come on--the guy's 20. His attack on memory isn't a young hero jousting with history, it's a callow confusenik trying to forget: that It's all been done before, sure, but that's the least of it. How about: Life is hard and then you die? Or: Old people have all the stuff? Or: I don't have a clue what the world will be like when I'm 40? Or merely: 40--that's two times 20, God!? These are all honorable thoughts that have required reiteration and adjustment for as long as I've been alive. Slight individual recalibrations of the noize-toon continuum have oft proved useful in getting them under control. Such recalibrations are harder than they look and much harder than most confuseniks assume. Congrats to Baldi for getting one right. A-

Sleigh Bells: Reign of Terror (Mom + Pop, 2012) I'm happier than I would have figured that they've cut down on their distortion-flaunting pile-of-sound shtick. Several times, in fact, Derek Miller makes me love guitar sounds as bell-like as Alexis Krauss's crystalline soprano, as tapered as her gorgeous gams. Then there's the dying siren that repeats addictively through "You Lost Me"--the one that makes me say, So what if the lyric is about singing from the grave, death is real, and anyway, I really want to hear that sound again right about--yeah! After all, "Comeback Kid" does stay positive no matter how brutally Miller pummels his own riffs with that drum sample. That's nice, right? Elsewhere it's just sweet sensation. Succumb--succumb. A-

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