Release Date: May 6, 2008
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Despite being two-thirds of now-defunct hardcore punks Wives, experimental L.A. post-rockers No Age aren’t about the agro any more. Nouns oscillates between ginormous ear-bleeders like Teen Creeps and introspective instrumental soundscapes Keechie and Impossible Bouquet. Definitely on the arty end of the post-rock gradient, No Age manage to channel elements of other great bands who have woken up drunk on the lo-fi line between pretty and noisy.
Divorced from all the talk about the return of the lo-fi sound, the scene revolving around the band's home base in L.A. (the Smell), and the group's rep as no-nonsense noise punks, you have the music of No Age. All that stuff is just background -- what matters is the sound coming down the wires as Nouns clatters and hisses on through to your ears. The duo of Dean Spunt (drums and vocals) and Randy Randall (guitar) are proudly noisy, drawing influence from early-'90s lo-fi acts like Eric's Trip as well as the New Zealand sound of that decade.
Song length has a funny politics. The three-minute pop standard is supposedly a relic of LP limitations in the early years of the American music industry, specifically the capacity of a 78-speed record, which then (goes the narrative) carried smoothly over to radio, cassette and CD formats. Transgressing by going over the normal time limit nowadays risks charges of pretension or hedonism, especially if the listener is bored, whereas going under may be marked as anti-authoritarian or – in an ironically deeply idiomatic way – unidiomatic as with, say, Guided by Voices.
No Age became poster bros for the burgeoning DIY scene bred out of L.A. punk club the Smell. Nouns, drummer Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall's Sub Pop debut and follow-up to last year's raw comp, Weirdo Rippers, comes packaged with their scene: photos of people (fans), places (clubs), and things (cassette collections). However, for all the loud-fast ethos, the album feels like it's balancing on one leg.