No Age Streamline Their Hazy Art-Punk on the Infectiously Fun 'Goons Be Gone'

No Age Streamline Their Hazy Art-Punk on the Infectiously Fun 'Goons Be Gone'
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No Age walk the line between driving punk rock and blurry noise as precisely as anyone. The art-punk duo of Randy Randall and Dean Spunt's ideal operating ground is that one sweet spot in between delirious pop hooks and fuzzed-out murk, between lo-fi experimentation and singable punk melodies. It's a tough balancing act, but there's enough on Goons Be Gone to make it an enjoyable, hazy ride.

Opinions may vary on the high points of the band's catalogue based on the listener's appreciation for No Age's abilities as sonic alchemists. Their first few records were lean punk statements enveloped in a murky haze, surrounding the listener in carefully sculpted feedback and white noise. Their biggest strength has always been their DIY charm, and somehow finding some kind of beauty in their abrasiveness.

Goons Be Gone is more on the straightforward side, from the bright, energetic "Head Sport Full Face" to the driving rhythms of "Feeler." The record is raw and unadorned, but there's not as much experimental urgency as on past efforts. Even with the lo-fi ambient interlude of "Toe in the Water," Goons Be Gone feels like a fun rock record rather than a manifesto on dreamy art-punk.

No Age's latest is not ground-breaking, but it doesn't need to be. It's an enjoyable rock record from a pair of sonic auteurs whose instincts for DIY noise-punk are as strong as ever. (Drag City)