It begins with a crude pounding, like a kick-drum pedal with a loose screw announcing the arrival of some sort of trash-can royalty. Thusly, No Age returns, king of the L.A. noise scene, with new album Everything In Between. The duo's second Sub Pop LP isn't due till late September, but we got an early shot to divine meaning from the 13-song platter — and what we discovered didn't disappoint.
What you'll hear first, throughout, and for the finish is that unshakable pulse. Opener “Life Prowler” thuds even as it soars with Randy Randall's glacial guitar figures and slums with Dean Spunt's melodically slack vox. Ramones paean “Fever Dreaming” offers three-and-a-half minutes of sloshy, sloppy, crunchy, careening punk rock. “Skinned” is an off-kilter, clanging steam engine whose axles and pistons are gloriously all wrong for one another.
The hazily great ambient passages that have punctuated No Age albums of the past are all but gone, saved up and siphoned into one big sheet of glass called “Katerpillar.” But lest you assume the record is all white guitar squall and punishing drums, it bears mentioning that the boys make a discovery of their own herein: jangle.
“Common Heat” stands out immediately for its predominant acoustic strum, making like a Stereopathic Soul Manure–era Beck track, downturned drawl and everything. The whiteboy blues continue on “Valley Hump Crash,” where oohs, major-chord guitars and sampled traffic sounds eventually butt up against a grunge-caked bridge. Still, the rhythm is a constant.
Toward the back end, the boys conjure a psychedelic suite with “Sorts” leading the pack. It's the closest No Age has tread to Animal Collective turf, layering clattering percussion over looped SFX and tossing the whole thing into an echo chamber. Reversed drum samples form the backbone of “Dusted,” a thick, vocal-less jam that crests into “Positive Amputation,” where washes of clean guitar lap against the piano-playing that anchors everything.
This is where the pounding stops for a moment. No Age takes a deep breath, lets it out real slow — the band has mastered pacing, tuning up its track-to-track experimentations into one album-length exhalation. The next song's title says it all: “Shred and Transcend,” man, shred and transcend.