Monday, May 19, 2008

No Age - Nouns

No Age and Times New Viking are different bands. Pitchfork recently gave No Age's LP its best new music listing, not long after TNV's, and in it briefly mentioned how they, "like TNV, employ a layer of fuzz." We have to be a little more specific about what layer of fuzz means. For TNV, it equals unlistenable. For No Age, it equals Deerhunter approximating My Bloody Valentine, or, if you still want to call this "lo-fi," this is what really good lo-fi sounds like.

No Age is an L.A. band that is apparently made up of two militant vegans obssessed with truth and not setting restrictions on the age limits at their shows. They're a serious indie rock band that seems to have worked their way through the system before their big buzz arrived with this album, and it is complementary for them that the lady who sold me my copy said she had sold three in the last hour. Rip it Off is not going to win TNV any new fans; Nouns is one of the best albums of the year, and I feel comfortable saying that in May. They're not going to get talked about like Vampire Weekend or be as big a band as Arcade Fire, but they're going to be big enough that they can sit comfortably alongside Lightning Bolt or Battles. That is not to say they are instrumental heavy--they are positively pop-song oriented on at least two tracks ("Teen Creeps" and "Sleeper Hold," best song on the album). They sound like what TNV would sound like if they had better production. Or, if their recording was more bass heavy than treble heavy. The "muddled" production on Nouns works to excellent effect, burying the vocals beneath the sound, but always so that they and the music are mutually complementary.

A track-by-track analysis of the album is too hard for me now. The album runs along like one huge song, with the more individual one sticking out from the rest (the previously mentioned two). I'm not saying there's only two good songs on the album and it's a masterpiece. It's complicated. It's not far off the mark to compare them to TNV; it's just far off to NOT ADMIT that they know how to make good music and TNV knows how to make it seem like they know how to make good music.

One final note: Nouns is great, but it's not a masterpiece. There will probably be 10 better albums than it this year, but it is damn good, and if their next album is a more fully-fleshed out pop album, then they will be hard to top. For now, there is too much formlessness, too much noise, it all blends together. It blends together nicely, and those two songs are really sweet, so yeah, they're a really good new band.

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