For a 22-year-old indie rocker still figuring things out, Dylan Baldi seems to have things pretty well figured out. Musically, at least.
The creative force behind Cloud Nothings has grown up and more aggressive over the band’s four distinct albums. Baldi says each record — including this year’s angst-harnessing “Here and Nowhere Else” — tackles similar feelings with changing perspectives. “I’ve generally written about a sort of alienation and malaise that a lot of people my age and myself feel — this sort of confusion about what’s going on and what to do with your life,” he said.
The scruffy Cleveland band, which plays the Turf Club next Thursday, is coming off 2012’s Steve Albini-produced breakout “Attack on Memory,” an angrier and more transformative record. While Baldi’s penchant for sticky hooks was still evident, the corrosive lead single “No Future/No Past” announced a departure from the upbeat power pop on 2011’s “Cloud Nothings.”
“It just felt like I couldn’t write another song that sounded like something on the self-titled record,” Baldi said. “I wanted to do something that was completely different, just because I was getting bored of doing things like that.”
Baldi, who at times sounds like a millennial Paul Westerberg, took a less calculated approach with “Here and Nowhere Else,” resulting in what he calls the “most honest representation” of himself. His barbed riffs are more complex, the jangly-to-jarring song structures are more dynamic and his pavement-scraping bark is better integrated into his pop-punk melodies, as on the punchy “Psychic Trauma” and whirling “Just Say Fear.”
Despite the departure of rhythm guitarist Joe Boyer (legal troubles prevent him from touring), the now-trio sounds bigger than ever, thanks largely to drummer Jayson Gerycz’s forceful pace-setting and battering fills. Meanwhile, TJ Duke’s hypnotic bass rumblings drive the front half of the simmering, seven-minute “Pattern Walks” and buttress the shout-along “Giving Into Seeing.”
As much as Ian Hunter and Drew Carey attest to Cleveland rocking, Baldi admits to getting bored easily in his native city these days and now makes his off-tour home in Paris to be with his (crimson-lipped?) girlfriend. “It’s completely different and I barely speak French, so every time I go outside I’m like, ‘Oh, shit. What am I supposed to do?’ ” he said. “But it’s exciting. I need something like that from getting sort of crazy.”
Coincidentally, as Cloud Nothings’ future looks brighter than ever, Baldi says, the restless new album is actually more positive than the last. Never mind his despair-steeped lyrics and anguished wails.
“With this one, it’s more like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Well, you know a lot of stuff is fucked, but it’s OK.’ You can’t do anything about it so you might as well just have a good time and enjoy yourself while you can.”
With: Protomartyr and the Hand.
When: 9 p.m. May 1.
Where: Turf Club.