A playing-it-safe move by noise-rock duo
LA-based noise rock duo, No Age, has just released their fifth studio full-length LP, Goons Be Gone. Comprised of 11 songs that amount to a rather short runtime of 33 minutes, Randy Randall on guitar and Dean Allen Spunt on percussion and vocals deliver a solid and lasting album to be heralded in their canon. This piece is replete with repetitive, dirty guitar riffs and removed singing with the occasional feedback manipulation they’ve come to be known for. Aside from its tasteful minimalism, it’s a little safe, making for a casual, non-stagnant listen but nothing too exotic to be fully turned on by.
Nearly every song follows the same formula: the introduction of a fuzz-drenched guitar riff that repeats throughout, declarative singing, a couple instrumental switch-ups just before it begins to bore and a neat little exit. It’s quintessentially garage-rock. All the tracks are very DIY (nod to quarantine) and have a home-brewed feel to them.
However constant this formula is, there are still some charming idiosyncrasies to each track. Like in “Working Stiff Takes a Break,” it’s hard to discern what instrument is producing this looping, ostensibly-reversed sound throughout, and, in “Feeler,” Spunt proclaims his interest in exploring the astral plane. At one point in the composition, it drastically slows down into this spacey, ethereal soundscape in “Smoothie” that features warping guitar arpeggios effectuated by cut-off manipulation and these quasi-cute pop-synth notes at the fringe of the guitar parts.
The vocalist, Randy Randall, has an almost Scottish cadence to his timbre. It kind of hearkens back to the old Scottish post-punk advent of a couple decades ago, and this may be the source of their inspiration, especially since his style of singing is so curt and sounds as if he’s the leader of some fictive mutiny, shouting galvanizing statements through a megaphone.
The first couple of songs have these seamless transitions, which gives the impression of one elongated song. However, they jettison that trend a third of the way in, leaving the rest of the tracks more-or-less distinctive from the last and even more distinctive from the first inextricable few. This may or may not be intentional, yet it not only contributes to the handmade, semi-passionate quality of the album, but also goofily rends the thing. Maybe they’re not really into cohesion.
That same quality is found in the fragmentary noise-made-music in the interstices of the mainline instrumentation, it sounds like it was just arbitrarily thrown in upon nth revision. Nevertheless, this is where they get their reputation as a noise-rock duo, but it’s not at all centralized. The noise is just a peripheral supplement.
Overall, it’s nothing extraordinary, but it’s definitely not mediocre. It’s right in the middle–just a good, maybe a little orthodox, but memorable staple in their repertoire. While they don’t produce anything too risqué or epiphanic in Goons Be Gone, the duo still serves some enthralling slappers.