The Tripwire: No Age: Plowing Through The Hard Parts

A former Tripwire colleague of ours once spoke at length with us on the merit of the Japandroids Post-Nothing. That talk went something like this:

Him: Did you read that (relevant rock website that writes reviews) write-up on Japandroids?
Me: No, not yet.
Him: It struck me as odd. The whole thing devolved into a speech on how much it made the writer want to rock out on an instrument again.
Me: That seems logical enough. There have been few songs in recent memory where the band sounds like they're having more fun than "Young Hearts Spark Fire."
Him: I guess. The whole thing kind of just made me think about girls and parties in basements and stuff.

In their own way, these are both logical enough reactions to that record. It contained a certain exuberance that helped one feel nostalgic for whatever they were most ready to feel nostalgic for: be it summers of youth or girls or boys or a drum kit. However, no recent album has made me feel all these things at once, while still having a firm place in the here and now, than No Age's Everything In Between.

Even the timing of this No Age record felt right. Unless you were able to catch one of their live scores of classic nature film The Bear, odds are there had been just enough of a gap since Nouns for the band to fall a bit off of your radar. Then a calendar year took place in which someone made up the ridiculous phrase "chillwave," and everyone else seemed to have a contest to see how many times they could use it to describe bands that sound almost nothing alike.

We're not here to deride chillwave. Far too many people have spent far too much time doing just that, and there's plenty of worthwhile tunes that were born out of that vague terminology. But at its worst, the word has come to represent something purposely simplistic that gains little from repeat listens and fades away with the summer tide.

No Age, however, has the feel of a band whose entire aesthetic goes directly against all these qualities. Their music is certainly not seasonal. And much like Nouns and Weirdo Rippers before it, the multilayered textures that make up the brief jams of Everything In Between also make them musically intriguing several listens over.

And noise-rock or not, these are absolutely jams. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but there is arguably more pop to their rhythms here than ever before. Everything In Between is packed full of driving rock brigades ("Fever Dreaming" even manages to sonically resemble a car crash). The lyrics, though, are often much less erratic, more earnest and soul-bearing. In that sense, though, it never feels as angsty as a statement like that implies. In that achievement lies much of their charm.

"Common Heat" is possibly No Age's most straightforward vocal showcase yet, lacking the all-around haze that usually surrounds them vocally and musically. Early on, the song contains the lament I get myself up to go to work/ I can't find my pleated shirt/ There's no way I can get out of bed now/ Why do I come so close expecting to control?/ Everyone around me knows I'm in trouble. The song ends up working well as an unsettling but realistic portrait of adult angst. But it's also a rare case for the band.

While they let their nerves breathe a bit and really come out in this case, typically Dean's drumming has a way of quite literally barreling right through the angst. This, in a larger sense, is why No Age has always been so enjoyable. Their instrumental songs like "Katerpillar" have their own worth, and we really dig the musical explorations of tracks like "Sorts." This is why, as we said, we're sure we can come back to these songs over and over again in our headphones.

But there's something to be said for creating all those warm feelings toward the past through acute observations on teenage heartbreak, nine-to-five blues, the loss of youthful luster, and just plowing right on through them to get to the next mind-melting bridge and have a beer with your friend in the basement. Maybe if they can get through it, we can too—or something. It seems cheaper than actually buying the drum kit.

The Tripwire: No Age: Plowing Through The Hard Parts