No Age: Everything In Between Review (Four Takes)
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are four reactions, four impressions, Four Takes on Everything In Between by No Age.
Jon Schober (Radio K)
Dean Spunt and Randy Randall are at it again: continuously pushing the boundaries of noise rock, they’ve now turned to a sort of sonic escapism on the new album “Everything In Between.” Their biography on Sub Pop explains their method; “they are on a constant journey to explore the furthest reaches of sound.” This effort is easily their most listenable, and I won’t lie, I was not a big fan of “Weirdo Rippers” because it was so unbelievably choppy, perhaps now in retrospect because it was collection of 7”s instead of a cohesive set. The accessibility comes at a time when their opening tour for Pavement is going to create thousands of new fans and potentially turn the band into one of the leaders on Sub Pop’s roster. Could it be they will surpass Beach House’s popularity?
This thing is totally solid. Lead single “Glitter” was great, but it’s nothing compared to the rest of the album. The hook on “Fever Dreaming” is catchy as hell, fast and breathless, and the vox are somewhat more coherent than previous efforts. The duoare playing with as much energy as they can muster; it’s no surprise they hurt themselves during their shows. In general there are just more melodies to remember on the album and things are sounding a little more surf-rocky (“Valley Hump Crash”). My only complaint here is a personal preference- when it comes to this type of sound, I can’t handle it for too long before the fuzziness overloads my head. It’s only a roughly 40-minute album, but 13 tracks is a lot to process, especially when I’m used to the 25-30 minute influx of garage rock albums that have come out this year.
Fuzz-popsters No Age have been at this for a while, having risen from the ashes of the seminal punk outfit Wives back in 2005. Their newest record, “Everything In Between” has much of the hazy pop that No-Age fans may be used to but it also includes instrumentals and somewhat paradoxically, ambient punk.
The first half of the album refuses to be predictable, setting the tone with the opener “Life Prowler”, a slow burning and melodic song that comes at you in waves, eventually retreating into silence. The album then abruptly mixes up the pace with the third song, “Fever Dreaming,” which sounds like tamer, gentler Oblivians.
With “Everything In Between” No Age has basically, like many other bands before them, proved that punk rockers are “real” musicians not confined to power chords. From the instrumental “Katerpillar” to the gloomy electro-pop of “Sorts” No Age delights in showing off the different ways they can present material.
“Everything In Between” tends to fade toward the end (they could have done with one instrumental instead of three) but the band should be commended for experimenting. Even though the results aren’t all positive, the first half of the album shows a band that can switch skins easily and still be distinctly No Age.
Matt Linden (Reviler)
Skuzzy, skuzzy, skuzzy. Damn, The Ramones and The Stooges and would be very proud grandfathers if they heard the third full length from the lo-fi punk revivalists No Age. So much of what these two guys are able to accomplish is indebted to their punk forefathers and they wear that fact readily on their sleeves. And much like their previous efforts, it’s an ongoing mystery as to how only two men can make a wall of sound this immense. But unlike Nouns and Weird Rippers, from the onset of Everything In Between, it’s apparent that the duo have kicked in a few extra bucks for production and hushed up the swaths of reverb a bit. They are still whirling in their lo-fi haze, as frantically as ever, and with enough energy to start a mosh pit at an old folks home – See: the chaos that ensues on “Fever Dreaming.” But there is a change is their songwriting approach, which sees the band calculating the vocal hooks to make catchier pop gems. “Skinned,” for instance, is one of the most straight forward pop punk songs the band has written and could see repeated radio play while “Depletion” is steeped in 90s alternative nostalgia. But six tracks in is where things go from as traditional as traditional can go with No Age to the wall of noise that I mentioned above. Once “Skinned” fades out the two meander through tracks filled to the brim with glitchy riffs, ambient noise, crunchy reverb and almost no vocals – save for the banger “Valley Hump Crash” and the shrouded vocals on “Sorts.” “Dusted” is the perfect No Age trademark that shows the guys creating something from nearly nothing as they loop one washed out guitar over another. After wandering they kick back in with two strong tracks with “Shred and Trasend” and brilliant driving closer “Chem Trails.” While Everything In Between probably has a few of my favorite single tracks from No Age, I don’t think it lived up to Nouns as a whole. For me, I would like to see the band bang out 10-11 tracks of songs rather than dedicating half of an album to pure noise. That being said, the guys deliver on their new LP and fans of the band are going to fall in frenzied, spazztic love all over again.
For me, it doesn’t get much better than when a band is able to deftly mix noise-y, punk ethos with some solid pop songwriting. One of the best bands doing that right now is No Age, and they provide more evidence with their latest record Everything In Between, which follows up last years excellent Nouns. Starting with the straightforward (at least for them) “Life Prowler” and “Glitter,” the production and execution on Everything in Between is as good as anything the group has ever recorded. The first half of the album is more pop focused, with the back half turning the groups attention to more noisy aspect of their songwriting. The group walks a tightrope of dissonecence and beautify just about better than anyone these days, and Everything in Between is another example of their readily evident talents. From the slacker rock of “Common Heat” to the wild dissonence of “Shred and Transcend,” No Age prove again with Everything In Between to be a band that is hard to pin down, but very easy to like.
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