It literally takes Los Angeles based duo Randy Randall and Dean Spunt, better known as No Age, all of twenty seconds to descend into complete madness on their newest release, Nouns (Sub Pop). When the vocals come in, we’re not even sure if they even matter, the guitars are pounding, and the ambient noises are abounding. Still, there is an appeal to the millions of layers of scratches and sounds that make up the main riff for “Miner,” and after that, it’s tough to put the record down.
For a band that is built on cacophony and fuzz, the album is surprisingly listenable. This is probably because it is a move towards riff-based rock, as compared to their last, more experimental record Weirdo Rippers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; tracks like “Eraser” are great experiments in layering sounds. It almost sounds like a SoCal pop day at the beach, except that the ambience is more like a hot sticky day in New York. It still has all the whimsy of the freedom of Summer, and yet, something is still bugging you about it. It’s almost got a Neutral Milk Hotel with the relentless noise guitar going. Luckily it’s not an entire album of the NMH aesthetic, we also get tracks like “Keechie” and “Impossible Bouquet” which explore space and sounds to the likes of The Appleseed Cast, and tracks like “Things I Did When I Was Dead” which jog along in a quirky, creepy groove underneath lackadaisical vocals.
When we get to “Ripped Knees,” we’re not even sure whose sound No Age is trying to have their way with. The songs aren’t overly complex in chord progression, and neither are the vocals. “Knees” sounds like just another indie pop jam, except, something else is afoot. It’s the odd ambient noises and buzz behind each track that makes them distinctly the work of Randall and Spunt. And the sound works. -joe puglisi