In certain musical circles, the word “accessible” is a death-sentence, a Judas-esque betrayal. Or worse, a synonym for “sell-out.” For noise-punk veterans No Age, it means their best release in recent memory. With recurring choruses and a selection of guitar riffs you can actually hum, much of Snares Like A Haircut feels like a new era for Dean Spunt and Randy Randall, who got their start doing time at L.A.’s The Smell, a grotty, sweat-marinated touchstone of DIY legitimacy.
“Cruise Control” signals this change, as the duo turn their churning, rumbling noise into an almost hooky(!) melody, and introducing the positive feeling of release that characterizes the album. “Tidal” actually gives us a recognizable chorus, with Randall chanting “Don’t you wanna go,” as they venture as far into hammy, power-chord punk as their ever going to. Surprisingly, they’re still managing to find new ways of making a massive racket—the force of their deafening roar still their most distinguishing feature.
The massive, kinetic drums and humming guitars of “Stuck In The Changer” are boosted with a locomotive clatter. Waves of reverb, echoing swishes of cymbals and the grounding thud of the snare and kick drum all swirl around in the wash together on “Drippy,” creating a thick, endless static sure to inspire shaking legs and swinging heads. And while “Send Me” takes their foot off the gas, the sound is ceaseless. As shimmering, effects-laden guitars melt into each other, a comforting insulation of noise is created, taking the edge off of Spunt’s persistent questions.
Indeed, most of the 12 tracks on Snares are motion, motion, motion, noise, noise, noise. The musical equivalent of burying your head in the sand, if only for the album’s length. The spots where there is room to breathe, “Snares Like A Haircut” and the intro of “Primitive Plus,” have the effect of submerging yourself underwater—the sound of your thoughts and your own heartbeat suddenly moving to the forefront.
Perhaps it’s this effect that made Spunt and Randall describe the record as being “made for the disparate band of misfits who 2017 couldn’t kill,” with Snares Like A Haircut as a kind of safety blanket of noise in a perilous 2018. It’s what you should put on when you don’t want to think; aggressive, enveloping, and with just enough of a bite to corroborate your deeply held belief that you’re not one of them.