Distortion Meddle: Theres a little more shoegaze in No Age's shitgaze. s a little more shoegaze in No Ages shitgaze. s shitgaze.

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The schloppy rock duo No Age has been called a lot of things in its short career—overhyped shitgazers, indie-rock pasticheurs, “unlikely Grammy nominees”—but I suspect guitarist Randy Randall and drummer Dean Allen Spunt would be more irked by being called “mature.” On Everything in Between, the duo isn’t mature like the current Dukes of September Rhythm Revue that features Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs, and Michael McDonald dicking with R&B oldies, but mature like Sonic Youth’s Goo or Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. The L.A. band’s second full-length is its most accessible release yet, although that might not be evident from the relentless jackhammer beats on the first few seconds of the opener, “Life Prowler.” However, the anxiousness subsides as soon as the duo calmly and confidently sings, “One time is all I need/To know my job’s complete/And when I reach into/Myself, my past comes true.” That they’re singing about self-actualization mostly signals a spiffed-up swagger, so fans shouldn’t fear that the production on Everything in Between is slick and glossy. Instead it contains layers of sonic grime—hiss, static, and samples. “Fever Dreaming” is a high-powered number with an unhinged feedback riff that sounds like dueling Wilhelm screams; after the song’s dissonant peak, it ends with a 20-second palate-cleanser of swirling, ambient sounds. “Katerpillar,” a low-key instrumental comprising backward guitars and whooshy samples, serves similar function halfway through the album. “Shed and Transcend” feints with a drone at the start, but quickly accelerates into full-bore rock. The vocals don’t come in until the two-thirds mark, but when they do, they convey an urgency and purposefulness not heard on prior releases. The guys in No Age are obviously rock historians, and they’ve accurately been pegged as rock classicists. Certainly, Everything in Between has moments where comparisons to other musicians are inevitable, the way they trail the chorus with “all of the time” is pure Malkmus. The opening of “Glitter” rips off The Knack’s “My Sharona” and Toni Basil’s “Mickey,” both of which ripped off countless girl-group songs from the ’60s. When “Valley Hump Crash” begins, fans of The Flamin’ Groovies will first swear it’s an off-kilter version of “Shake Some Action.” A patina of Kevin Shield’s signature shoegaze sound seems to hover over the entire album. And while these influences gradually emerge from beneath the waves of effects and distortion, it’s the melodies and hooks that prove most memorable. No Age’s songcraft has dramatically improved, but the duo keeps things weird enough with tempo changes, sound effects, and blistering energy. You won’t hear these songs in a revue any time soon.