4 / 5
Wavves’ Nathan Willaims used to make the oddest sort of punk rock back in the weird old days of 2008. It was briefly fashionable at the time to write poppy punk songs but to record them so loudly that they clipped, producing a heavy distortion over every sound in the recording. Songs like “Teenage Super Party” and “Beach Goth” and “California Goth” were strangely catchy; underneath the thick, nearly unlistenable layer of distortion were genuine Weezer-indebted songs of being young and lusty and enamoured with the beach. Later, he would record these kinds of songs without the clipping, and would garner a significant indie rock following.
Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings first put his name to digital wax producing bored jaded suburbanite songs that were recorded in an almost ambient fashion, garnished with tape hiss and tailored distinctly lo-fi. Since then he’s struck out in his own direction, writing some of the most bleak and emotionally powerful punk rock of the 2010s. Given Williams’ regrettable tendencies towards Weezer-esque crunch pop (most notably on 2013’s Afraid Of Heights by Wavves), Baldi seems like the perfect foil for his songwriting. No Life For Me bears this out to a remarkable extent. The best moments, as on “How’s It Gonna Go” and the chorus of “Hard To Find”, involve both Baldi’s tactic of launching out into full head-on abandon and Williams’ easy-going but somewhat eerie ear for melody. There are no real mediocre moments on No Life For Me, but there isn’t much room for them, either; the album gets in and out in 21 minutes, feeling like a split EP more than anything else.
Nathan Williams of Wavves has spent his career post-2008 slowly working up to writing schlock like “Beverley Hills”, but on No Life For Me Dylan Baldi steps in and brings him back to his hissy, jaded roots, and both of them sound better for it.