It may technically be a surprise album, but everyone knew it was coming. No Life for Me, the nine-song collaborative album from Wavves’ Nathan Williams and Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi, was confirmed back in March of this year, when Williams shared the extremely informative album cover on Twitter and Instagram. This record has been much longer in the making, though, with fans salivating over the prospect of such a joint effort since March of 2014, before the release of Here and Nowhere Else. Back then, Baldi told Exclaim! about the album’s unceremonious conception:
“I woke up one morning hungover in Paris, which is where I usually live, and I just had a text on my phone that was like, ‘Yo, wanna make a record together?'” says Baldi of the collaboration’s origins. “I was like ‘…Okay!’ And that was it. It sounded fun.”
Released digitally Sunday night via Williams’ label, Ghost Ramp, with a vinyl pressing up for pre-order, No Life for Me was produced by Sweet Valley (Nathan’s brother, Joel) and features drums and bass from Wavves’ Brian Hill and Stephen Pope, respectively. Except for Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij’s appearance on “Hard to Find” and its general collaborative nature, the album was quite the in-house project. In fact, it was quite literally “in house”—all of the recording was done at Williams’ home in Los Angeles.
No Life for Me is more or less what you’d expect from Wavves and Cloud Nothings; it’s straightforward, distorted garage rock tailor-made for those who are already fans of the bands, with foot-tappingly catchy hooks in nearly every chorus. Both bands occupy a similar place in the world of rock ‘n roll, and this album fits squarely in the narrow sonic space between them. Some tracks lean surfier à la Wavves (like “Such a Drag”), while others have a heavier bent—“Nervous” could easily have been a scrapped Cloud Nothings cut circa 2011—but nothing on the album strays too far to either end. Wavves’ whiny nihilism is nearly absent, and no song remotely approaches the brooding weight of Attack on Memory.
No Life for Me doesn’t tread any new ground, but then again, nobody asked it to. If you like Wavves, you’ll probably like this record. If you like Cloud Nothings, you’ll probably like this record, too. If you like both bands, then congrats, you’re its target market. There’s nothing innovative here, but that means there’s also nothing to disappoint you. It’s garage rock for garage rock’s sake—it sounds like Nathan and Dylan had a bunch of fun making it, and listening to it is a good time as well. Maybe we’ll see something new with Wavves’ new album due in August, but until then, No Life for Me is a pleasant stroll through a familiar garden.
No Life for Me is out now on Ghost Ramp.