The word "maturation" and the word "punk" don't often coexist easily: For a band like Cleveland's Cloud Nothings, whose sloppily aggressive songs channel slackerdom and frustration, growing up would seem antithetical to its mission. But the group's third album, Here and Nowhere Else, threads the needle just right, tightening and brightening Cloud Nothings' sound in ways that never numb its blistering, careening forcefulness.
In the spirit of Japandroids' instant classic Celebration Rock from 2012, Here and Nowhere Else captures the sound and spirit of guys who've learned over time how to best harness their own vitality. On both records, that includes a periodic willingness to embrace joy in ways Cloud Nothings rarely attempted before. The snarling ferocity of past records hasn't been muted so much as channeled and streamlined.
It's telling that Here and Nowhere Else closes with Cloud Nothings' best song yet, "I'm Not Part of Me" — an irresistible anthem that keeps accelerating and intensifying as it barrels along. It's a microcosm of the album, and of the band's career as a whole: Given time and accumulated wisdom, all three find new and ever more exhilarating ways to make celebration rock.