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No Age- Everything in Between (Album Review)

After its sprawling but ambitious 2007 compilation, Weirdo Rippers, aggregated its dissonant back pages, Los Angeles duo No Age exploded with the 2008 full-length Nouns. From its distorted poppers like “Cappo,” crushing burners like “Teen Creeps,” and out-into-wordless-atmospherics like “Impossible Bouquet,” Nouns announced the arrival of one of the new millennium’s most iconoclastic wonders, immediately upgrading its label (moving from Fat Cat to Sub Pop) in the process. That’s heavy pressure for the skinny shoulders of skateboarders Dean Spunt and Randy Randall, who form the powerhouse rhythmic nucleus of No Age’s postmodern atom-smasher. But I’d be totally lying if I didn’t say that Everything in Between emphatically evidences the thesis that No Age kicks holy ass.
Everything in Between is swollen with source code. No Age’s sound careens between My Bloody Valentine and Devo, Joy Division and the Ramones, Pixies and Fugazi, without ever devolving into pastiche or homage. Breakneck shredders like “Depletion” and “Fever Dreaming” borrow from everyone and no one at the same time, as they are simply shot to pieces by Spunt’s unhinged drums and Randall’s wailing riffage. Even the amped stomp of “Skinned” and the very aptly named “Shed and Transcend” brutally deconstruct themselves with simultaneous precision and abandon, bouncing inside a mosh-pit long since emptied because of posers. No Age is no poser, even when it’s spacewalking into the techno-cultural cacophony of sound experiments like “Katerpillar,” “Sorts,” “Dusted” and “Positive Amputation”—which are all challenging but still accessibly executed. They’re exploratory collages equally capable of hypnotizing listeners into elevated mind-states and successfully redefining what they will accept from upstart punks looking to push the envelope past its breaking point. And that’s fucking hard.
But far from being punk-ass kids, Spunt and Randall are snarling but skilled vets, charting the way forward to a new-millennial musical landscape way less boring. The dark-pop drama of “Glitter” mashes gothic longing and self-conscious meta-fiction, making it an excellent club-floor standard. The bright strums of “Common Heat” oscillate close enough to country to unsettle the genre’s generic signatures. The deranged jangle of “Valley Hump Crash” wraps ambition and self-deprecation into shiny, loud rock candy. It’s all so much damn delicious, deafening noise. And the truth is that it should be spread here, there and everywhere, all at once, because we could all use its cathartic therapy.
With the stunning Everything in Between, Randall and Spunt’s emergent sonic juggernaut, No Age is continuing to build, brick by brick, a bulletproof reputation for thunderous virtuosity—all without leaning on worthless crutches like Auto-Tune, capitalized formula, compromise and other fakery that divides pretenders from those who set fire to the dustbin of musical history.