Listening to the latest No Age album usually makes my recessive punk genes want to grab the world by its left one, so it’s disconcerting — worrying, even — to hear the duo teetering on the verge of tears halfway through their fourth LP, An Object. As Randy Randall drags his distortion boxes over Dean Allen Spunt’s knuckle-dragging beats, we’re treated to a lonesome tale of day-long drives, truck stops that pour watery coffee pots, and a seemingly endless stream of “bullshit on the stereo.”
“I tell myself it’s one more day,” Spunt assures us, “And one more night, alone again.” He’s only kidding himself, however, because the next song (an ambient noise interlude called “My Hands, Birch and Steel”) finds the de facto frontman looking to simply “get out of this place.” But the days are long and the road is harder than it needs to be for a band like No Age, a group so wracked with worry over the disconnect between their well-earned success and their DIY beginnings that they did everything but press a limited CD/vinyl run of their new record.
“We physically touched them all,” Spunt told Pitchfork, “and stamped them and wrote on them and sweated on them.” “If we could,” added Randall, “we would go home with you, help you unwrap the record, put it on your stereo, and then cook you dinner and cuddle while you listen to it.” They clearly thought this through, and thankfully, they still have a sense of humor.
An Object is as close as No Age comes to writing a downer record, from the poison-tipped pleas of “I Won’t Be Your Generator” to the motorized melodies of “Defector/ed.” There are a couple ragers on here — “C’mon Stimmung” and “Circling With Dizzy,” mainly — but overall, you’re left wondering if we should go up to the band’s merch table the next time they’re in town and say, “Cheer up, kid.” Or as the snot-nosed sages in blink-182 once said, “I guess this is growing up.”