Music

No Age: Everything in Between

On the new album the noise rock duo tightens its sound and expands its horizon with another collection of great, loud pop songs.


No Age

Everything in Between

Label: Sub Pop
US Release Date: 2010-09-28
UK Release Date: 2010-09-27
Label Website
Band Website
Amazon
iTunes

On Everything in Between, No Age doesn’t really change up its winning formula. Like the collection of EPs Weirdo Rippers and the first proper album Nouns, the new album mixes noisy soundscapes with catchy hooks. The band likes to move between harsh ambience and punky pop, which has proven to be a winning combination. Unlike other bands that mix punk and ambient influences, No Age avoids the self-indulgent by rounding out its explorations in noise with melodic redemption. The duo has tightened up its approach and perfected its sound by sacrificing neither a commitment to loud overwhelming sound nor a love of good catchy melody.

The album opener “Life Prowler” starts with a quickly pounding kick drum that sets expectations for a rowdy fast punk song. But when the guitar riff comes in, it moves behind the beat setting the pace for Dean Spunt’s lazy vocals. There’s something comforting in his deadpan sometimes tonally flat delivery (very reminiscent of the cool guy timbre of Thurston Moore). The second track, “Glitter”, is maybe one of the band’s best songs yet. Along with the first single from the album, “Fever Dreaming”, the song pairs an infectious chorus with screeching feedback, a nice summary of No Age’s approach: to pair candy sweet melody with atonal earbusting din. On “Glitter”, Spunt sings “I want you back underneath my skin” and this sentiment pretty easily describes the working of the duo’s songs.

No Age’s aesthetic works through a sense of familiarity. The sound is a combination of references to the history of loud rock and roll. This approach has become more evident with Everything in Between, where guitarist Randy Randall has sharpened his power chords for a slightly more complex sound. The quick progression in the chorus of “Depletion” is reminiscent of the classic British Invasion 7ths and 9ths. “Depletion” expands perfectly into “Common Heat”, an acoustic-based track with a repetitive electric guitar playing a trebly almost-bass line in the background. Again, in the bridge after the chorus, Randall explores the range of chords that surrounds the main riff.

When I first listened to this album, I wasn’t really sure how to range it in No Age’s catalogue. It didn’t seem to do anything that different from the previous records. I had the same feeling about Nouns when it first came out. Following Weirdo Rippers, I had decided No Age was compromising its noisy background for more catchy songs. But each album expands with multiple listens and I’ve come to realize that No Age has merely found a more successful way to combine the two sides of its sound.

The main issue you might raise against No Age is that the lyrics tend to be fairly uninteresting. The words hit many commonplaces of rock and roll: depression, routine life problems, and so forth. The chorus of “Common Heat” repeats “Why do I come so close expecting to control / Everyone around me knows I’m in trouble.” This warning has been announced many times before that it’s no longer urgent. In the end, though, the fact that the lyrics don’t offer much to think about—except self-deprecating self-reflection—doesn’t take away from the music at all.

If No Age is the new way of punk, it’s a pretty great direction. In the spirit of punk, the band has encapsulated the feelings and sounds that have gone into making pop music over the ages. Like the Ramones -- Spunt’s vocal delivery also sometimes recalls Joey’s melodic staccato—No Age plays music made by fans. Everything in Between hits you over the head right away with five tracks of unavoidable pop songs. While the album seems to calm down on the second half with tracks that lean more toward ambience -- especially the back-to-back solo instrumentals from each member -- the calm isn’t so much of a hump as a quick respite from pop contagiousness. A few minutes to reflect before going back into the fray.

No Age likes its songs to climax. Whether a track begins with a wash of feedback noise or a relatively quiet vocal part sung over a pounding bass drum, chances are there will be a big pay off by the end. This may just be a repetition of the chorus you’ve already heard, but with bigger hooks and more guitar lines. The song structure is a holdover from punk days. Many classic punk songs build in intensity and leave you wanting more. On “Valley Hump Crash”, you’re left wondering for the first couple of minutes what the song is really trying to do; the verse is repetitive, not quite melodic. But all of a sudden, the guitar starts strumming insistently, the feedback growls, and Dean Spunt sings, “Catalina, take my hand / I don’t want to take you to another land / But I’m in the lonely streets of . . .” This latecomer chorus repeats until the end, as if the song was climbing and climbing until it finally reached a plateau that affords an unimaginably sweet view.

Just like its songs, the album finishes with a climax. The last two songs of the 13-track album blast away without tiring. The call and response verse of “Chem Trails” sung over a whistling guitar melodically anticipates a cheesy ‘80s chorus blowout that doesn’t quite come. Instead, No Age brings it back to their territory of energetic yet reflective punk intelligence that works so well. No Age is blaringly loud, intensely aggressive, and yet completely calm. The success of this sound is its ability to fuel the youthful furor of punk rock into something more productive; that is, writing really good songs.

8

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image