Thursday, January 8, 2009

Nouns - No Age (SCQ Detox 2 of 2)


No Age
Subpop Records.

SCQ Rating: 65%

You need to have a significant level of talent to make two-chord, lukewarm punk songs worth hearing, and No Age are making a pretty solid, young career out of it. ‘Eraser’, one of their most popular songs no doubt, is a great example by executing its first half in warm-up mode before jamming the volume knob and completing the punk-rock puzzle with vocals and distortion. Yeah, that’s fine but… do they have anything else to offer? Thankfully, No Age answer with a collection of swelling post-punk fuzz and blinding bravado, jumping between the excited anthem of ‘Teen Creeps’ to botched collage-work as heard in ‘Impossible Bouquet’.

Nouns is as much about attitude as it is songwriting… which attests for several songs bleeding harmlessly into one another. I can dig a record that is intentionally muddled and abrasive on purpose, and I can appreciate a band that chooses to create in such lo-fi squalor. When that perfectly OK record becomes a celebrated piece of pop-art as dictated by critics who also hoisted Saturday=Youth onto Year-End lists everywhere, however, I worry that posturing (of both band and critic) is what’s truly being distinguished here. Is Nouns really an incredible record or does its ragged punk-ethos simply give credence to fans and critics who value attitude over aptitude? Like a thousand indie-rock bands before them, No Age are occupying the indecipherable lyrics and metropolitan-weathered looks we’ve seen before. Consider how many bands of the past five years have covered the same terrain and count how many have surpassed it to truly matter. I can tell you now: the bands who’ve surpassed have done so with music, not swagger.

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