No Age’s allure has always come from the band’s conflict between its punk-rock grit and its penchant for shoegaze flourish. Unlike the contemporaries of Deerhunter who blur this line to the point where it’s unrecognizable, these two denizens of the artful L.A. skate-punk scene can’t seem to decide whether they want to sound like your high school punk band or the soundtrack to Lost in Translation. But that’s cool. Anyone who has seen even one episode of reality television knows that conflict sells like gangbusters.
Like the charmingly rough Weirdo Rippers before it, Nouns again finds guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt struggling to reconcile their lo-fi charm with their psychedelic dreams of grandeur. The album switches between grimy rockers (“Here Should Be My Home”) and come-down lullabies (“Things I Did When I Was Dead”) seemingly at random, but the fuzzy haze that hangs over each track holds the record together. Flush with Sub Pop’s coveted cash-money, No Age has cleaned up its production a bit, making the atmospheric pieces more intimate and the rock assaults more, well, assaulting. While this change might ruffle a few fanboys’ feathers, it is nice to finally hear No Age songs that don’t sound like they were recorded in a rusty trashcan.
Whether No Age is a gritty punk group or a transcendent shoegaze outfit is irrelevant. This is a band that revels in contradictory juxtapositions, and that's what makes it so much fun to listen to. Take the time you would've spent trying to compartmentalize No Age and use it to turn the volume up on your stereo. Nouns is all the better for it.