No Age choose art over pop on ‘An Object’

It took three years for the duo No Age to release An Object, the follow-up to 2010’s well-received album Everything In Between.  It’s generally indicative that some sort of shift occurred with a band when there’s such a large gap between releases, and An Object is no exception.

Everything In Between was a natural progression from the band’s previous work, essentially moving the band to writing songs rather than organizing sounds, making melodies rather than mayhem.  The songs were loud, dreamy, but had catchy tunes. An Object eschews this progression; the next obvious step for No Age would have been to go all-in with the pop melodies and song structures, and to turn down the wall of noise slightly, but that’s not what they do.  Instead, No Age has opted largely for monotone vocals over anything sing-songy, mostly getting rid of the guitars and distorted sounds that characterized Everything In Between.

This new style can best be seen on “Defector/Ed” and “An Impression.” Both songs remove percussion, instead using bass guitar and other sounds.  The songs are sparse and don’t immediately jump out, taking a few listens for one to understand what’s going on.  And even then, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s likable.

Some remnants of the old sound do remain.  “C’mon, Stimmung” chugs along with an intensity similar to the band’s past hit “Fever Dreaming,” and since it’s placed in the “money spot” as the third track on the album, it’s probably meant to act as a catchy anchor.

If anything, An Object cements the fact that No Age is an art band.  They’re not writing pop hits, and while they’ll occasionally release a song that could hit the mainstream, that’s not where their concern lies. Instead, No Age is putting out music in line with its own ethos and values, and aren’t simply releasing what people expect or want to hear.  And I’m not exactly sure what those ethos and values are, but it does make for interesting listening.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

CD | LP

Author: Ryan King

Ryan King began covering music in 2004 for the Arrow, the student newspaper at Southeast Missouri State University, eventually becoming Managing Editor at that publication. He is also the former Music Editor for OFF! Magazine, an alternative publication published by the Southeast Missourian. Ryan began writing for The Music Universe when launched, but has stepped away to focus on law. He may appear from time to time for reviews.

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