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Album review: No Age stays true to previous sound in ‘An Object’

1415745299Apparently, after having put all that energy into its perfectly raucous 2010 record, “Everything In Between,” Los Angeles noise-punk duo No Age needed a moment to decompress. In three years’ time, guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt worked on disintegrating how they conceived and performed their music for “An Object,” released Tuesday.

This undertaking — of  pulling apart their process in order to formulate one anew — saw Randall and Spunt tweaking their sounds to synthesize less rock ‘n’ roll songs and more, say, larger ambient constructions without any sort of standard pop/rock structure. This is only somewhat contrary to their previous releases, which exhibited a rowdy punk band with dissonance merely patched in and out periodically, just enough to garner No Age the noise half in their noise-punk distinction.

Surely, No Age sprawls out on “An Object,” but really, they don’t stray too far from their source. Album opener “No Ground” and “C’mon, Stimmung” are quintessentially No Age. The band’s ubiquitous strum-and-slam sound is on both directly comparable to the shrill of “Fever Dreaming” (from album “Everything In Between” or perhaps a less brazen “Teen Creeps” (from album “Nouns”). Likewise, “Circling With Dizzy,” “Lock Box” and even “I Won’t Be Your Generator” operate as the No Age we know, defined by varying degrees of overdrive bolstered by some ethereal stridency.

That said, there is undoubtedly evidence of a band testing itself on “An Object.” Take “An Impression,” probably one of the most instrumentally unique No Age pieces to date, which features a lo-fi lens and a percussive click a la The Unicorns’ 2003 album “Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?” Supported additionally by a tender Randall rhythm and a first-time violin appearance, the result is a song that is atmospheric without losing its grip. The distant muttering of electronic sounds and the overarching dissonance of “Running from a-Go-Go” alongside the recurrent intensity of “A Ceiling Dreams of a Floor” also reflect an audacious band that is centering itself more on composition.

“An Object” concludes with “Commerce, Comment, Commence,” the least driven song of the record. It opens with a tone that inflects the ambiance of Brian Eno’s 1978 album “Ambient 1: Music For Airports” glazed with a distant, nearly shy Spunt. The song dwindles after Spunt’s first verse, then blooms and flourishes just as quickly as it dissolves to its resolution. This sort of fade-out is not a rare conclusion to any record, just as about half of the songs on the record don’t come from left field for No Age. However, within the band’s narrative, the rest of “An Object’s” songs are some of No Age’s most ambitious and becoming.

Grade: B

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