The LA duo No Age are on their third album now, usually seen as a bit of a crossroads for bands of a certain ilk. Critically adored and well respected for their lo-fi DIY ethos, it’s unimaginable to even think of No Age becoming mainstream.
Which, on Everything In Between, they don’t of course. While other artists similarly beloved of the blogosphere have either disappeared (Tapes N Tapes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) or gone on to commercial respectability (Vampire Weekend, M.I.A.), it’s somewhat reassuring to know that No Age remain in their own brilliantly scuzzy little ghetto.
That’s not to say there aren’t any signs of evolution on Everything In Between. Indeed, on some tracks here, such as Glitter, the melodies are amongst their most immediate and addictive. Yet there’s enough grimy guitar feedback and vocals low in the mix to stave off any accusations of selling out.
Life Provider opens the album with a drumbeat sounding like somebody constantly knocking on a door, before a nagging guitar riff strikes up. It’s an untypically laid back opener, but the fuzzy lo-fi pop of the aforementioned Glitter makes for a better introduction to the album.
Glitter starts as a dead-ringer for My Sherona, with its clappy drumbeat, but with layers of squealing, feedback drenched, guitar laid over the top. The lyrics tell tales of paranoia and obsession (“everyone is out to get you again, but I want you bad under my skin”) and while there’s an eerie, experimental edge here, veteran No Age fans may be surprised at how restrained it sounds.
The incendiary thrash of Fever Dreaming harks back to the No Age of old, but there’s a definite ambient edge to many of the tracks here, perhaps following up on the Losing Feeling EP. The instrumental Positive Amputation is as beautiful as its title is bizarre, atmospheric piano chords played sadly over a fuzz of My Bloody Valentine-esque guitar, while Katerpiller takes the Kevin Shields comparisons even further, with 90 seconds of beautifully shimmering guitar haze.
At the other extreme, Valley Hump Crash could almost be described as jangly, if it wasn’t for Dean Allen Spunt’s lazy drawl, sounding for all the world like Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. The wildly varying time signatures of Skimmed sound edgy, jittery and utterly compelling, while there’s another achingly gorgeous instrumental in Dusted.
Everything In Between won’t be to all tastes, inevitably. Sometimes, Spunt’s vocals are so laid back that they make J Mascis sound full of life and the wild variety of styles employed across the album may make novices to No Age feel like their heads are spinning slightly. Yet by the time the vocal duet and droning guitars of Chem Trails come around, you’ll realise that this is the sound of a band who are going from strength to strength.