No Age - Snares Like a Haircut (Cover Artwork)

No Age

Snares Like a Haircut (2018)

Sub pop

No Age make the jump from Sub Pop to Drag City for their new album Snares Like a Haircut. It’s been five years since the band released An Object, and drummer / vocalist Dean Spunt reported following that album’s release that the band took a much-needed break, following years of feverish recording and tour cycles. No Age continued to collaborate intermittently, Spunt had a child, and the band set about resetting their expectations for what the next step for No Age would be.

Snares occasionally trades the frantic energy of Nouns for a more languid approach that never quite crosses into complete indifference, and nothing on Snares is a radical departure from the No Age template. Waves of distorted guitar continually crash against clattering drums and are accentuated by Sonic Youth-style dissonant instrument manipulation as supplementation. “Send Me” piles layers of oscillating, dreamy guitars over a stairstep riff, and the title track is a somnolent instrumental drone punctuated by a cavalcade of percussive scissoring. The middle third of the album injects some needed urgency back into the proceedings. On “Tidal,” a helicopter verse riff leads to a windmill power chord bridge with a background guitar siren. “Soft Collar Fad” lurches and crashes with a strong resemblance to Nirvana’s “Been a Son” while “Secret Swamp” bears a characteristic SST-era Dinosaur Jr / Husker Du melodic guitar encased in a tomb of distortion.

Snares finds No Age pondering their artistic identity within the concept of the band itself. Spunt stated after multiple years of feverish work the band was exhausted and left wondering what was next. The theme of uncertainty manifests in the lyrics to “Stuck in the Changer” with Spunt intimating “Everywhere I face / I toss and turn / and fluctuate like I’m caught under a riptide.” The response to the band’s exhaustion appears in “Drippy” “as two cups rest / they can’t be filled until / they take a needed rest.” “Popper” vacillates between the realization that the band “[has] a lot to offer / [but they] don’t think they should bother.” Finally, “Send Me” asks the ultimate question after the journey of the album, “Where should I go?”

Snares contains enough of the unique instrumental elements that keep a No Age album interesting but falters occasionally when the energy fades and the tempo falls to a listless pace. Snares shows that No Age have not run out of new sounds to explore as they continue their musical journey.