Nothing says ‘punk rock’ more than offering to dig a sewage pipe trench for a new toilet in your local all-ages gig venue. No Age are not a band afraid to get their hands dirty: they make their own clothes, design their own album art (‘Nouns’ comes with a colourful 68-page book) and promote their own gigs in squats and vegan cafés, while their construction skills extend from plumbing new toilets for semi-legendary LA venue The Smell to building a half-pipe in their back yard.
This enterprising DIY ethos informs No Age’s frequently awesome music. Neither plays bass, but rather than hire a session twerp to fill in parts they could never replicate live, drummer Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall use their imagination – and a heap of effects pedals – to give their snotty slacker punk a thick, dreamy texture. It’s like ’90s Sub Poppers Eric’s Trip, Sebadoh’s more rapturous moments or My Bloody Valentine playing Descendents songs. As with Times New Viking, No Age’s songs come smeared in cheap, trebly noise, but rapidly reveal moments of wirey, nonchalant brilliance. ‘Teen Creeps’ is a brash, off-key blast of eardrum-searing Superchunk-style fuzz-pop, but it harbours a celestial coda that segues perfectly into the drowsy ‘Things I Did When I Was Dead’.
No Age strike the perfect balance between not giving a fuck (about overdubs, song structures, mass appeal) and giving a lot of a fuck (about passion, spontaneity and translating life’s little kicks on to record). Songs lurch enthusiastically into each other, bursting on impact.
Despite No Age’s enforced restrictions, they’ve come up with an album that – in its urgent, accidental variety – is far more exciting than the studied stylistic uniformity of most rock bands’ efforts. ‘Nouns’ feels more like a lovingly-compiled and hand-illustrated mixtape – a personal gift from two of music’s supercoolest dudes.