Monday, May 5, 2008

Record Review: No Age: Nouns

The LA-based noise-punk duo releases its second album, its first on Sub Pop.

Rating: 4.5/5

Weirdo Rippers was good. It was enthusiastic, raw, focused, simultaneously pretty and aggressive, and, clocking in at barely over a half hour, easy to listen to. No Age perfectly interspersed the album’s gentle, buzzing drones with moments of melody and three chord punk energy, and while the record’s style was neither revolutionary nor complex, it was loose, approachable, and not at all indulgent, allowing it succeed where many noise rock albums fail.

However, not everyone loved No Age’s static-y, lo-fi aesthetic, and to many listeners that album likely seemed downright boring, even oft-putting. Nouns features the same general approach, and thus, like Weirdo Rippers, may have a limited fanbase. At the same time, the album offers a tighter and more pop-oriented songwriting style, and may appeal to some of those listeners who couldn’t get into No Age’s debut. Even with singer Dean Spunt’s vocals still submerged in a wave of fuzz, melody shines through on nearly every song, with drone kept to a minimum and hooks taking center stage throughout the record.

Of course, a pig in a dress is still a pig; that is, a more pop sensible, structured sound means nothing if the songs themselves aren’t good. Nouns’ success rides on the fact that these songs are, at their base, quite terrific, and that the duo doesn’t try to overextend itself at any point. Time after time, No Age does things Psychocandy-style: find a simple yet catchy melody/chord progression, bury it in distortion, and draw each idea out to its natural conclusion, never, fortunately, pushing a song past two or three minutes. No Age isn't as spastic or unpredictable this time around, and there is a relative lack of Rippers-type minimalist, subdued moments on Nouns, but the slight (and it is truly slight) shift in style ultimately makes this record more enjoyable and consistent than its predecessor.

And occasionally, such as “Keechie” and “Errand Boy,” the due does revisit the whirring ambience that characterized much of thier previous work. However, tracks like lead single “Eraser” steal the show. “Eraser” doesn’t kick into gear until nearly a minute and a half in, and even then the lyrics are near indecipherable, but No Age sound so invigorated and inspired during the final minute, and like they’re having so much fun, that it’s hard not to enjoy it. This song, and the whole album, is just a seamless showcase of No Age’s ability to channel their emotion and liveliness into tight, irresistible, feedback-driven blasts.

Two albums into their career, No Age have already elevated themselves into the noise rock elite. Their genre may be well explored, but No Age never sound like any old Sonic Youth/Pavement/Spacemen 3-derived newcomer. Rather, the duo’s dirty, fuzzy bursts are entirely their own, exhibiting two musicians in tune with each other and in command of their forceful, exuberant sound. Weirdo Rippers was good, but Nouns not only one-ups No Age’s already strong debut, but also stands as one 2008’s best albums thus far.

No Age - Eraser


Anonymous said...

Joe's never gonna man up and dish out a full batch.

Andrew said...


Joey (reasonableman616) said...

the fifth pie fell sideways on the floor and i had to throw half of it out. :(

George said...

Is this noise rock?

dan said...

Yes George, in the truest sense of the term.