No Age

Snares Like a Haircut

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After making an album, An Object, that felt like the perfect culmination of their freaked-out noise, gummy pop inclinations, and ambient fuzz experiments, No Age came to a fork in the road. No longer making records for Sub Pop, they took a few years to play live shows and only released one single. It might stand to reason that the duo would come back with a new sound, or at the very least some kind of update, but 2018's Snares Like a Haircut on new label Drag City is proof that the band doesn't need to do anything different to make a brilliant album. The album isn't exactly An Object II, but it does capture the elements of sound that made An Object so great. The thrilling shoegaze pop songs ("Cruise Control," the mighty "Stuck in the Changer") bump up against full-speed-ahead Daydream Nation rockers ("Drippy," "Tidal"); the ambient songs seemingly made from spare parts ripped out of guitars and keyboards (the title track, "Squashed") meet songs that strip back the noise but fill the arrangements with soft-focus fuzz ("Send Me"); and even the songs that just sound like the usual No Age fare blast out of the speakers with an undeniable passion and fire. There's even a track with some fun subaquatic saxophone warbling ("Third Grade Rave") and an oceanic jam that would make A.R. Kane proud ("Primitive Plus"). It's clear that despite the long layoff from record-store shelves, Dean Spunt and Randy Randall have lost none of the genius they tapped into for An Object; this record is on par with that and right up there with the best noisy guitar music of the past however many years. The duo have fully harnessed something wonderful and they continue to make the absolute best kind of experimental pop -- the kind that manages to challenge the mind and fill the heart with joy at the same time. Not to mention inspire lots of air drumming, simulated fret bashing, and bouncing around the room like a maniac. It's art with a beat, noise with hooks, and more proof that No Age are one of the great slept-on bands of their generation.

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