Bands labeling themselves "noise rock" have to decide which word to put the emphasis on, and, in the case of this Los Angeles duo, the answer is on the latter, but only by a fraction. Building an underground rep by releasing several indie singles that were then combined into 2007's Weirdo Rippers, No Age now has the wider world's attention, and the band's proper debut, Nouns, isn't for those who prefer their feedback tempered by power chords and verse-chorus-verse structures. With that said, though, it's not a bratty or willfully difficult album, either. Rather, think of these 12 songs as very loud demos that somebody forgot to "fix" with overdubs or proper mixing because, really, what fun would that be?
Vocalist-drummer Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall seem more indebted to the Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth's '80s albums than, say, Metal Machine Music or even the Jesus Lizard. Consequently, Nouns is unified by a hypnotic, slightly ethereal undercurrent beneath its clatter. Even when the group tries to make a moody instrumental number ("Keechie") or bubblegum pop ("Here Should Be My Home"), a jittery urgency takes over that shouldn't be confused with crap musicianship or unfocused thrash. As the startlingly blistering "Teen Creeps" makes plain, when they feel so inclined they can smash out a straightforward rock track — they'll even put a dreamy My Bloody Valentine guitar crescendo on the end for you. But once you orient yourself to their compact tunes' scruffy, headlong rush, you may get a little addicted to their artful noise.
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