Rating: 5 of 10
No Age is an experimental punk duo from Los Angeles. Their 2008 major label debut, Nouns, on Sub Pop received critical acclaim, and was followed by 2010’s Everything In Between, which also received critical acclaim. They are known for their pure-punk energy combined with unconventional noises and textures (the “experimental” in “experimental punk”). They’ve evolved, as a band, to be heavier on the “experimental” side, with shoegaze-like textures and alien sounds melted into a punk energy.
Their newest album, An Object, feels unfinished. Some songs are complete, while others feel like they're missing something. Yes- there is less drumming on this album than the previous No Age releases, but that's not always what’s missing. "No Ground", the album's opener, does fine without drums. The sonic drive is very much present and intriguing. Unfortunately, other drumless tracks, like "My Hands, Birch and Steel", "A Ceiling Dreams Of A Floor", and "Commerce, Comment, Commence" just feel undefined and vague. They drudge on for too long with boring two-to-three note melodies sung by drummer Dean Spunt. The songs lack clear emotions and energy, and instead merely present "what works".
Despite my complaints, there are still great songs on this album. The first four tracks of the album are fantastic, and succeed in cutting out extraneous layers that have clouded up their songs in the past, while keeping the energy that No Age has presented in the past. "C'mon Stimmung" is the closest that An Object comes to a conventional song with untainted instruments, and it's by far the highlight of the album. It is the climax of the album at only track three, and it's unfortunate that the energy of the track is never again met ("Lock Box" comes close). On Nouns and Everything In Between, the albums' energy curves were exciting and intriguing, but An Object feels anticlimactic and like a tease of what it could've been.