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No Age – Snares Like A Haircut

Drag City

No Age - Snares Like A HaircutAfter four years away, No Age return with a follow up to 2013’s An Object, released on Sub Pop. They seem to have left that spiritual home, headed for the more experimental environs of Drag City and have now released Snares Like A Haircut.

The intervening years have found them away from music, living life and seemingly preparing themselves for the onslaught they were intending to bring upon the listening public. An Object had a certain tempo that showed the boys were attempting to get beyond the three-minute fuzz attack of the earlier recordings, and some of it was deconstructed to a point where only the bass and drums seemed apparent. Those years out have helped No Age to find their mojo, and this new album has plenty of rippers that blast through in under three minutes and leave the earth scorched in their wake.

The opening salvo of three fast-paced snarlers blasts past you with simple yet steady drums leading the charge. “Stuck In The Changer” is particularly effective; there is a real dynamism to the track, its shimmering guitar layered over a rollicking drumbeat, and at points the guitar erupts like a shovel dragged along tarmac. There are little guitar explosions littered all over the album, and at times the kind of beat and drawled vocals bring to mind some of the early Saints tracks.

There are questions being asked and the mysteries of life being pondered as the album progresses. In “Send Me”, the line “Send me; where should I go?” is repeated over a sunny, vibrant intro; here the pace is slowed a little and there is a Cure-like haze to the proceedings that I wasn’t expecting. With the likes of the Soft Pack and Male Bonding no longer trading, it is down to No Age to keep that frenetic brand of experimental punk rock to the fore of the people’s consciousness and with this album, they are certainly doing that.

There is a Dinosaur Jr element to the bass sound of “Tidal”, coming on like a heart attack as the guitar bursts open like a festering boil, freaking and fizzing all over the place in a real mess. The solo is a proper freak out and the whole things seems to be made up of TNT. They are trying to be careful, but it just keeps blowing up in their faces. The listener needs to sit a little bit away from the speakers for this and for “Soft Collar Fad”, the tempo is exquisite, and you will certainly find yourself dancing around the living room to this. It is irresistible, with a touch of The Feelies to the vibe, and somehow they have managed to make the bass sound as though you are listening to it with your head in a goldfish bowl. Hard to explain, slightly unearthly, but eminently satisfying.

As we approach the end of the album, things become a little interesting; the bass heavy “Popper” insists “I got a lot to offer” while the guitar wave kicks our teeth in with its ferocity. “Third Grade rave” has wild African drums covered with an onslaught of angular noise, while “Squashed” has an off-key MBV feel to its experimentation, with sloppy sounding drums and squelches strewn across it. Closer “Primitive Plus” is a haze, the vocals drifting into a choral sunset, the whole thing gauzy and compelling, and bringing things to a suitable finale.

The time away has allowed the duo to return with renewed vigour and ferocity. However, the variety of tracks here reveals a desire to push the envelope a little, and certainly the manner in which the album goes from frenetic heads-down punk to more abstract ideas is quite fine. It is a good return and hopefully we won’t need to wait another four years for the follow-up.

-Mr Olivetti-

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