BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS
Noise, some say, is just noise. Noise in the hands of Randy Randall and Dean Spunt is a tangible, something to be shaped, molded. On the duo’s latest for Sub Pop “An Object”, they take the monotone sparseness of The Velvet Underground, the distorted volume of Husker Du, some drone from the Sonic Youth playbook and somehow find melody in ram shackled, crazed beauty.
With each of No Age’s previous albums (“Nouns” in 2008, “Weirdo Rippers” and 2010’s “Everything in Between”) they leaned on the comfort of punk or post-punk, both genre variations that they did very well within, to drive the concept, to shape the sound, to find definition of No Age as a band. With “An Object” however, they seem to be shifting and growing, looking for a middle ground and they find it.
The direction they have gone with “An Object” is less punk and more no wave, a sound more experimental than even their most experimental that came before. “Running a Go-Go” comes together as if it is the sound Joy Division would have taken on if Curtis hadn’t reached the end of his rope. “An Impression” is shockingly near joy, the sound of a band that is stepping out of their comfort zone and being pleased with the outcome.
On “Circling the Dizzy” fuzzy guitars are the order of the day while “Commerce, Comment, Commence” rubs so close to the shoegazer sweet spot forever held by My Bloody Valentine that you’d swear it was a cover or at least an homage to the masters of the distortion tidal wave.
The minimal coldness of “An Object” is what makes the record so good. No Age has made an album devoid of joy, yet I couldn’t help but smile when listening to it. It would have been human instinct to hate it, to search out something happy as a palate cleanser; instead, I embraced it and, odds are, you will too.
With “An Object” Randall and Spunt prove that they are ready, willing and able to change gears and try something new. That is the mark of a good musician, someone always looking for something else, something different. No Age has found a place to be unafraid, a place to rest their weary souls. Not too loud, not too soft, a place that is just right.
DOWNLOAD: “I Won’t Be Your Generator” “An Impression”