Dylan Baldi, the baby-faced Clevelander behind Cloud Nothings, repeats the line "I don't understand at all" 16 times on his debut LP's opening track, in a voice that doesn't sound quite human. Between his chipmunk bark and the pop-punk guitar riff chugging in place, it comes across in the same twerp-y, pridefully stupid manner as the work of his former tour mate Wavves.
And like that band's recorded output, this album is a tower of hooks, each one written and performed solely by the 19-year-old Baldi. His knack for melody, though, is far outweighed by his dismal stab at wordplay. Nearly every track is centered around one line, repeated over and over. And over. By round 16 of "I don't have a heartbeat, why do you?" on a song that's just over a minute long#&8212;and again sputtered in that smart-alecky vocal register#&8212;you start to wonder if Baldi is taunting the listener who treats his music as more than just background noise. By the album's end, the chipmunk shrill has morphed into a mall-punk sneer, a dreamier version of the Get Up Kids' Matt Pryor, and something reminiscent of Superdrag, as it becomes apparent Baldi's just trying to find his footing as a singer. The album, all 28 minutes of it, has a taut, crisp feel, but it leaves you waiting for a Big Moment that never comes.