No Age - An Object
The post punk outfit's latest record values end product as highly as it does process
Where punk snarled and tore down, it’s artier, more optimistic little brother post-punk experimented and reshaped - a process that continues even today in recesses of music less-recognised. You’ll find few better modern embodiments of the spirit of circa 1978-1984 than No Age - a Californian twosome who’ve follow-up their highly-rated third album, 2010’s Everything in Between, with the every-bit-as-good An Object. It’s another record that seems to pride itself on never taking the path of least resistance towards a racket built for both body and mind, but importantly values end product as highly as it does process.
You’ll find few ideas at work here that three decades or so ago didn’t broadly-speaking preoccupy No Age’s post-punk progenitors - Wire’s toying with strange detail and the conventions of song form, say, or Sonic Youth’s No Wave adventures in noise and dissonance. But where guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Allen Spunt excel is in pulling together a unique suite of irregular sounds - percussion using contact mics in place of a standard drum kit, amplifiers filled with handfuls of loose change, that kind of thing - and making sure that there be short, sharp tunes somewhere amid all the nerdy sonic architecture.
‘I Won’t Be Your Generator’ could be The Strokes with Sonic Youth guitars. ‘C’Mon, Stimmung’ is a speedy blast of Ramones-y pogoing with vocals that sound like they’re being screamed down a length of metal pipe, and a guitar solo that sounds more like a dental drill shattering tooth enamel than it does a boring old bit of wood with steel strings drawn across it.
Like all the best post-punk albums, An Object is never predictable. As proven by the sudden outbreak of fluttering cellos in ‘An Impression’ and the entirety of penultimate track ‘A Ceiling Dreams of A Floor’, a two-and-a-half minute shoegaze daydream, where No Age’s obsessive meddling with method is generally defined by strange, industrial-strength harshness, they can also totally blindside you with fleeting moments of simple beauty.