Like a big cuddly teddy bear, Los Angeles art-punks No Age are a fluffy and inviting proposition, effortlessly drawing legions of fans and curious onlookers alike into their brightly hued world of fuzztronic pop simplicity. Both impossibly archaic and bizarrely futuristic, Weirdo Rippers sounds as though Spunt and Randall dropped the master tapes into a vat of acetone, leaving a gnarled, wooly and crusty film over what were once crystalline pop songs that the Walker Brothers or Box Tops would have been proud to call their own. In some respects, one could view their methods as anti-Spectorian; they construct a blissful, harmonic wall of sound almost by sheer accident, with buoyant pop hooks peeking out from behind squalls of distortion-fried feedback.
Despite the fact that Weirdo Rippers has been culled together from the best bits 'n' bobs of five separate vinyl-only EP's (which also happen to have been released on five separate labels), the album is remarkably cohesive, from the opening post-punk psychedelic phasing of "Every Artist Needs a Tragedy" to the skuzzy pawn shoppe freak blast of "Boy Void" and the roiling Quaalude pop smarts of "Everybody's Down", everything sounds perfectly in place, with nary a note or idea misplaced in what, by all rights should be, a complete and utter mess of an album. That they pull it off with such ease and aplomb is a testament to their songwriting skills, which, honed over the years in their former outfit Wives, seem destined to be further refined into a diamond-sharp point of poignant pop perfection.
Like that lollipop you dropped in the dirt and ate anyway, Weirdo Rippers never fails to deliver another gritty, fuzzy surprise. Whether it's the jangly, hum-a-long "Neck Escaper" mutating into an in-the-red blur of distorted voice and sizzling hi-hat, or the ghastly ambience that hangs cumbrous around "Dead Plane"'s otherwise frazzled freak-beat arrangement, you'll discover something new each time you listen, and really, who couldn't use a little more subversion in their pop music these days? No Age deliver it in spades, and though you probably won't ever see them grace the cover of the Rolling Stone, they're exactly what a modern pop band should be: coarse, pretty and just the slightest bit askew.