On their latest release, An Object, L.A. duo No Age travel in reverse. In a move that truly defines the term DIY, Dean Spunt and Randy Randall didn’t just make the music, but also hand-packaged (stamp-licking and all) each one of their new records themselves. Literally, all aspects of the album’s creation, from conception to birth, were completely controlled by No Age, leaving little room for interference, and even less room for interpretation; with An Object, what you hear is what you get.
An Object represents art in the basic sense of the word, which of course, in itself, is a word that’s hardly definable. Still, it’s clear what No Age are trying to accomplish here: a gentle assault on capitalism, the digital age, and what it means to experience a record as a whole. On its cover, the album’s title is repeated with several different forms of punctuation; whether it be a comma, a question mark, or quotations, the grammar may change, but the meaning does not. No Age aren’t out there tweeting or tumbling the shit out of their new album, like practically all bands do these days. They aren’t giving interviews to big name magazines about why you should spend money on their music. Like any object, the new record merely exists, and what meaning we choose to ascribe to An Object will likely shift from listener to listener.
Obviously, An Object aims to make a statement, even if that statement isn’t the same for everyone. Opener “No Ground” begs a complex series of questions, most notably, “Does anybody really care?” Whether or not we totally suck as a society, fans of No Age’s past releases might find An Object inaccessible. Instead of sticking by the band’s signature dreamy, noisy punk vibe, the sounds on An Object are minimal, from the buzzing background squeaks of “Defector/ed” to the bare, urging beat of “Lock Box.” “An Impression” is pretty and melancholy, with soft strings replacing jagged edges. Guitars still shred and slice when they’re supposed to, but without question, An Object isn’t quite so sharp.
“There is no here, and there is no there,” is one of Dean Spunt’s cryptic messages, which he states on closer “Commerce, Comment, Commence.” The track sends the album off in a muddled haze, drifting lazily between barely audible sounds and droning murmurs. While its biggest aim may be to move backwards instead of forwards, An Object is still an ambitious effort, one that No Age never quite fully realize. In the end, that responsibility rests with us.