No Age

Snares Like a Haircut

Drag City

Feb 07, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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Having taken their longest break between albums, the unbound Los Angeles noise rockers No Age have leapt back from the void, while simultaneously filling one. Shifting from under Sub Pop's banner to Drag City for their fifth full-length, Randy Randall and Dean Spunt have picked up where they left off and taken off running, dealing a dispatch of radiant energy that feels timely. On Snares Like a Haircut, No Age look to expand the atmosphere past the stripped, raw garage punk quarters of their last album, 2013's divinely basic An Object. In these loftier solar powered spaces, the familiar walls of distortion are padded with insulation, revealing a full progression from the harsher noise bursts of 2008's Nouns that have subsequently and gradually become more diffuse. In tone, it's a return to the hazier sheers of their inaugural Weirdo Rippers, which is not to say that the music is without adrenal force.

Just like on their native coast, through all of the congestion and smog, the sun still shines through. That chimerical spirit floods through the beginning stanza that whisks you up on the crest of the wave they imitate with onrushing sound. Then "Send Me" stimulates imagery of Dogtown skaters where Stecyk and Peralta come to the mind's eye. In keeping with skateboard origins, the music often feels of makeshift found parts that find motion when patched together. The rhythm of "Squashed" is kept with ice sculpting sounds of chips and shavings. Meanwhile, "Popper" is classic No Age that vibrates somewhere between The Ramones and Aussie garage punk. 

A hidden magic of No Age has always been found in their wordless soft focus scapes of industrial motion, guitars drowned in the tempered feedback that make them sound like echoes from a distant factory. Though the guttural ambient medlies of past records have been tapered, that gleam hasn't disappeared entirely, appearing ephemerally at the beginnings and ends of songs and circulating through the abstract swatches of the title track, which is sheer experimental brilliance.

There's real gratification for the fan when an album finds a balance held by intact identity and expansion of the dimension in which it resides. Snares Like a Haircut achieves this by introducing an almost shoegaze sensibility to their galvanic art punk. The refreshing assortment is evidence that in this territory, No Age have no equal. (  

Author rating: 7.5/10

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