"Goons Be Gone", No Age’s second album for Drag City, kicks into gear, takes you out west and gets some dirt on it, with what’s possible their most honed in and direct record yet.
A guitar/drums duo (Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt) with a penchant for self-recorded samples, No Age are mostly unconcerned with things like space or pause, and "Goons Be Gone" is gorgeously thick -- a hazy, delirious expanse that’s both comforting and disorienting. Opener “Sandalwood” begins and ends in murk, and in between Randall and Spunt sputter and twitch and pound, alternately revealing and concealing a sweet, taut melody -- such is No Age’s agenda, burying an addictive little singalong in layers of effects and fuzz.
“Feeler” is more immediately user-friendly, opening with sunny guitar chirps and a knee-slapping drumbeat, before Spunt starts barking intelligible lyrics (“Attention feels overrated / Dismiss this crowded place / Come away with me / Disguise the impact from your face”) and the music goes steady and frantic. “Working Stiff Takes A Break” is a summer song in the sweatiest, most realistic sense -- it’s not the Beach Boys’ gooey, über-idealized, convertibles-and-beach-volleyball version, it’s the waiting-for-the-bus, sweaty and desperate but still-sorta-excited-about-all-that-sunshine take. “Smoothie” is similarly exuberant, full of power chords and distortion; it’s arguably the poppiest thing No Age have recorded to date (all those cries of “Tambourine” are practically bubblegum), and accordingly, completely addictive. “Head Sport Full Face”, meanwhile, is the sound-- both literally and metaphysically -- of everything happening all at once, an ecstatic, feedback-addled lullaby.
Some fans might pine -- at least at first -- for the (vaguely) more experimental, less riff-driven muck of "An Object", but "Goons Be Gone" is a more thoughtful, coherent (and still plenty dirty) version of what No Age began building with all those EPs. Listening to "Goons Be Gone", it’s hard to comprehend how just two people can manage to make so much noise while still sounding so subdued and mysterious -- it’s easier to imagine Randall and Spunt spewing these songs underwater, bursting forth from some colossal California quarry rather than a tiny, stuffy art space a few blocks from L.A.’s skid row. "Goons Be Gone" is so cacophonous, so fertile, and so ripe with sound that parsing out the samples and effects and various layers of guitar is nearly impossible; besides, it’s way more satisfying to just close your eyes and just enjoy it. Ultimately, it’s part of No Age’s allure that "Goons Be Gone" is so difficult to figure out, that it manages to be so big while coming from a place so small: All you’ll know for sure is that you want to listen longer. Maybe forever.
Working Stiff Takes a Break
Toes In the Water
Turned to String
A Sigh Clicks
Head Sport Full Face