No Age - Nouns

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

It's apt that No Age singed with veteran indie label Sub Pop to release their second LP because Nouns takes US alt rock right back to its murky roots, planting one foot in woozy experimental folk and another firmly in the fuzz buried sugar rush punk of Husker Du.

It's not just the intense industrial hum and scrape which open and closes fearsome and frantic opening track 'Miner', or the feedback drenched thrash of 'Sleeper Hold', it's also the Beach Boys vocals lurking underneath the sludge. There's a gripping tension you feel listening to the interplay between the echoing feedback and cheery jangle which opens 'Eraser'. Moments like this and others on Nouns recall early REM at their most obtuse and mystical, taking something redolent of old time Americana and kicking it into a contemporary setting of shopping malls and graffiti tagged tower blocks.

This trick is also on album standout 'Teen Creeps', which opens with a cute countrified guitar figure before plunging into a tornado of blank-eyed, discordant drone rock. The fact that, after a few listens, it dawns on you there's a big, aching heart at the centre of the storm shows the level at which No Age are now working. Right at its end, 'Teen Creeps' elides into a Beatles-esque surge of warm ambient sound, gloriously wrong-footing the listener.

Such unfussy experimentation, a No Age trademark, is all over Nouns. 'Things I Did When I was Dead' mines the same stream of ambient folk psyche which has made alt-kings of Animal Collective. There's also a distinctly European sensibility to the drifting tectonics of sound which form 'Keechie, or the flowing 'Impossible Bouquet', both of which could sit happily on a Brian Eno album.

Best tracks: 'Teen Creeps', 'Keechie', 'Impossible Bouquet'

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