The problem with expecting your experimental guitar noise bands to continually make listener-challenging, finger-to-the-ear albums is that eventually they’re going to subjugate themselves and do the opposite. The end result will still be artistically valid but it will reach out to a pocket of people they’ve never touched before and it will make them go ‘…woah’. So it’s not surprising that instead of driving their third album into rock n’ roll’s hard shoulder, Los Angeles’ No Age have made their most discordantly attractive album yet.
If the fertile period of music which bore Sonic Youth’s Sister and Dinosaur Jr’s You’re Living All Over Me were to have a teenage son, it would be called No Age’s Everything In Between. The same careening instrumental antagonism is present throughout the album, but it’s underpinned with a conscious desire to fill out the tracks with something more than spiralling waves of feedback. The incessant “there’s someone at the door” beat of opener “Life Prowler” is an attention-grabbing, febrile moment. “One time is all I need/to know my job’s complete” — the singular stabs of guitar hit with such precision to drive those words home.
Chosen as the first single, the tie fighting waves of feedback that bracket “Glitter” can’t derail the pop-sided action. While tracks like “Fever Dreaming” and “Depletion” remain true to the No Age rage, the evolution of Everything In Between becomes less predictable and the Jay Reatard-tinged “Common Heat” reveals a mature band, taking their neighbours advice and turning the volume down. And it works. Drums are toned down or removed, acoustic guitar is lifted in the mix and the overbearing noise aesthetic gives way to “Dusted” and “Positive Amputation”, two instrumental/sound collage tracks. The former sounding like Kevin Shields remixing TV On The Radio and the latter like Kevin Shields remixing himself.
Looking for a suitable summation for Everything In Between, No Age have provided their own with the penultimate track, “Shred and Transcend”. A verb Superchunk recently used on their latest album, Majesty Shredding, “to shred” is still a worthy trait, and instead of offering up “shred and discard” (which may be something the cover art was alluding to), No Age have handed over something that has surpassed their two previous albums. It’s a curious mix of manic and mellow, and something that will make people (outside of The Smell) sit up and take notice, or perhaps lay back and ride the waves.