Punk, by its very nature, is an experiment. To use the word “experimental” to describe An Object, the latest album from No Age, would be redundant. The L.A. duo, composed of guitarist Randy Randall and vocalist/drummer Dean Allen Spunt, have had just about every label in existence thrown at them. Their music has been referred to everything from “art/pop-punk” to “ambient/noise-rock.” While all these labels accurately describe their sound in some way, it’s easier to simply accept that No Age will always be pushing boundaries in favor of reproducing material.
The album art displays the words “An Object. An Object! An Object, An Object? ‘An Object,’” and is the first clue to listeners that even the band isn’t quite sure how to label what they’ve created. The songs are aspiring blends of distortion, fuzz, and buzz. For An Object, No Age have opted to scale back on heavy rhythm sections to the point that they’re almost non-existent. To counteract the lack of drums, No Age have filled in the extra space with more substantial vocals and copious amounts of reverb-laden guitar arrangements and background noise. Some tracks give the album a classic kick, like opener “No Ground,” which is filled with running bass riffs and has Spunt spouting lines “Who do you think are / Trying so hard” and “Does anybody care?” repeatedly as the song comes to a close. Rippers like “C’mon, Stimmung,” “Lock Box” and “Circling With Dizzy,” save the album from dragging too much with their shocks of electricity.
An Object isn’t short on “unusual” noise either. The spacey track “Defector/ed,” has what sounds like birds chirping and water bubbling in the background, creating an environment of organic noise. Airy and ambient tracks “A Ceiling Dreams of A Floor” and “Commerce, Comment, Commence” finish the album in a sea of atmospheric euphoria.
With An Object, No Age favored a more audacious, yet still minimal, approach to their songwriting. The album seems like it had the fat trimmed off in the studio and leaves the listener with a leaner-than-usual, but still enjoyable production. You’ll leave feeling full, but not stuffed.