Nouns, the debut record by Californian noise outfit No Age was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, since then the pressure has mounted around Randy Randell and Dean Spunt to record an equally sensational follow up – Everything In Between.
While the debut was full of succinct punk gems, awash with reverb, Everything In Between expands on that initial sound with more subtlety, adding breathing room to their already accomplished sound. Song is lengthier this time around and to the dismay of elitists everywhere, some even adhere to the verse chorus verse structure. But save the cries of ‘sell out’ – this is still a No Age record. Their signature sound is fully intact. Numbers like Depletion sound like a mix between Sonic Youth at their most frantic, and My Bloody Valentine in the throes of You Made Me Realise, whereas slower tracks like Glitter are a little more restrained, offering a gentle chord progression and a treble laden feedback screech with each chorus. The album brims with a new found maturity slipping and sliding between harder punkier beats, and softer melodies anchored by a shoegaze. Punk and shoegaze seem like an odd mix, but Everything In Between never feels disjointed because Randell and Spunt are on solid ground due to their expansive knowledge of each genre.
Unlike Nouns, Spunt’s vocals have been brought forward in the mix, allowing his words to emit from the grainy noise of the tracks. While Spunt isn’t the most versatile vocalist, he manages to convey the fevered emotions of record, his thin voice whispering melancholy tales surrounded by spiralling guitars. While the words aren’t exactly those of Elliott Smith, they do the job – appropriately sophomoric – who could expect much more than the woes of youth from two art-punks? Much like on their debut the words and sounds swell to astonishing effect, Everything In Between becomes the musical equivalent of watching crashing waves, perfectly evidenced by the final seconds of Dusted.
The real question here is what have No Age done other than take their foot of the acceleration peddle (and place it firmly on the distortion)? Well the answer is, not much. There little is growth on Everything In Between – it isn’t Nouns mark II, but it isn’t far off either. The songs are longer, more nuanced, and carry a density they lacked before with more layers allowing for a more tactile experience than Nouns, however it doesn’t feel as groundbreaking as its predecessor.
Expectations were high for Everything In Between and it can’t get away with simply being an outstanding record. It builds upon solid foundations creating a more melodic and polished record, but almost like Sonic Youth following Daydream Nation with Goo, No Age have produced a good follow up that doesn’t quite meet the hype. After such an exciting and unique debut, an equally exciting and unique sounding sequel was expected. Everything In Between however bodes well for the duo – it seems to be everything in between Nouns and whatever their third album will entail, and while that may be a long way off, No Age are certainly ones to watch for future giants of the alternative scene.