No Age - An Object
Record Label: Sub Pop
Release Date: August 20, 2013
It's been quite some time since having a cause was the done thing. Whilst the likes of Iceage preach rebellion in a completely apolitical manner, it's obvious that music is no longer a major mouthpiece for the politically disenchanted, the anti-capitalists, the rights activists and the generally angry people who bring about change in our world. No Age are an exception to that rule. The Los Angeles noise-rock duo have made waves with their anti-Walmart benefit show last year and, of course, their unforgettable anti-Converse protest at a Converse sponsored show. It seems fitting that after these particular events, No Age would release An Object, an eleven track, anti-capitalist, anti-norms, anti-music album. With hand-crafted artwork and the physical package of the album being made by No Age’s pair of hands, everything aspect of An Object’s.. well, object is designed to draw the fan into their non-conforming, DIY world. However, of course, it’s the music that matters in the end, whatever methods they use to utilise capitalism to fight capitalism.
An Object is certainly a metamorphosis for No Age. Where its predecessor Everything In Between showcased No Age become that bit more mature, An Object is the sound of a band slowing down and becoming a little less… anything. Previously, No Age fitted well in a roll call along the likes of Iceage, Fuck Buttons and Metz, bands whose dangerous, explosive post-punk symbolised a new movement towards the anger of years gone by. In contrast to this, An Object is slow, lacking in shouting or much emotion and, well, a little like an early Joy Division/Warsaw covers album. Yes, the lack of production and general scuzziness of the record is reminiscent of what we’d like to hear from No Age, but aside from this the music lacks excitement and inspiration.
It’s obvious that No Age have worked to make An Object stand out. Not one second of the record settles for sounding normal. Every aspect has been fucked with. “A Ceiling Dreams Of A Floor” is a prime example of this, with the song seemingly being a million miles away from the speakers. However, weirdness doesn’t make a song and it just comes across as boring. This can be said also of “My Hands, Birch And Steel” and “Commerce, Comment, Commence”. The former’s bored sounding vocals and lack of direction or actual melody and the latter complete emptiness have nothing interesting about them. It’s disappointing how a band who seem so anti-conforming seem to have just fallen into a mediocre sound with little excitement or thrills.
Occasionally, No Age tick the right boxes. When they do get it right, it’s usually in the first half of the record. “I Won’t Be Your Generator” has the melody that later tracks lack desperately and, although it’s certainly not as uptempo as would be desirable, it’s one of the few times that No Age successfully master the art of being mid-paced. “An Impression” is also quite enjoyable and has an almost dance-like vibe before descending into violins. The track doesn’t even come close to a second of Everything In Between, but at least it’s memorable, something that can’t be said for most of the album.
Overall, An Object is highly disappointing. Previously, it seemed as if No Age were going from strength to strength, but for some reason, they’ve decided to take a step back. Maybe, they feel like regressing will keep their audience on its toes, but this certainly is not what was to be expected after a three year wait. No Age are trying to get a point across, but for your message to be accepted, you’ve got to get people listening. An Object isn’t the album to do that.
I don't hate this album because I love No She so much, but this it's just so much worse than Everything In Between and Nouns. Everything In Between is one of my favorite records and I think if they built off that sound they would've had a perfect record.
I understand what they were trying to pull off with this "think piece," of the moment album, but it just doesn't hit as hard as anything they've done before and it's a monumental step back. I commend them for creating and engaging with every one of these records. The handmade aspect alone made me buy this. But I don't see myself going back to this one often.