Sometimes a band comes along and gathers up a lot of critical acclaim, and in the process I find myself wondering just how and why it's all happening. No Age is one of those groups, and although there were places on their debut Weirdo Rippers where it seemed like the hyperbole-filled words really matched up with the music itself, I simply found myself largely scratching my head as to why the two piece had resonated so much.
Nouns arrives as album number two in the oeuvre of No Age, and it finds them stepping up to the Sub Pop label and landing in an absolutely beautiful CD package design, with a super-fancy digipack and 64-page booklet to go along with their twelve-song, thirty-minute blast of fuzzed-out songs. Taking things up a small notch in terms of recording quality (medium-fi would probably be apt, as it's still a long shot from glossy), this is certainly a more cohesive release than their debut, with some absolutely killer songs mixed in with some rather middling ones.
"Miner" drops the hammer in a hurry, and scorching guitars pretty much avalanche on top of both the drums and vocals, leaving them as ghostly figures behind the sheet of squalling sound. Elsewhere, "Teen Creeps" and "Here Should Be My Home" find the duo ratcheting through some powerful, but sing-along style songs that again pour buckets of syrupy feedback over everything in the mix.
Although the group certainly has an enviable amount of forward momentum on Nouns, my biggest problem with the group (and the one I had with their last album) is a sheer lack of real surprise in terms of their melodic and rhythmic work. There are certainly places (as on the songs mentioned above, and on the great closer "Brain Burner") where their rambunctious side dovetails almost perfectly with some great melodic work and exciting dynamics, but in many other places it feels like they're pumping out slight variations on the same formula. Definitely in line with the more wham-bam work of Sonic Youth and other like-minded artists, you probably already know if this is something that you're going to enjoy.