For what it aims to do, mainly dressing up short and poppy songs with punk rock energy, noise, and ambient elements, Nouns succeeds mightily. It's a short and energetic burst that is over before you know it. At worst, it provides an opportunity to simply rock out, at its best it's beautiful, chaotic, and energetic all at the same time.
I first saw No Age open up for Liars, and I enjoyed them but wasn't blown away by them. I liked their energy and their ambient interludes, but they struck me as kind of simple. Their short songs seemed unfinished. I also tend to view two piece bands as a bit of a gimmick after I've heard The White Stripes and Death From Above 1979 over and over again. So I wasn't really prepared to enjoy this album as much as I did. It took a couple of listens, but after I fully digested the hooks and dug through some of the noise this album really opened up.
The album kicks off with Miner, an uptempo number that sets Nouns off in typical thrashing style. It's a quick, straight forward song with buried vocals. It's got a very hooky guitar riff and nice energy. Teen Creeps is another highlight with an absolutely soaring chorus. My favorite song on the album is Sleeper Hold. It manages to sound epic at less than 3 minutes. Their are also ambient interludes scattered throughout the album that add atmosphere and also provide a respite from the more energetic songs.
A lot of music labeled as "indie" has a tendency to lack any backbone, and No Age doesn't have that problem. It harkens back to a time when independent bands actually rocked. No Age is treading on similar ground as Husker Du, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr.-noisy but ultimately catchy bands. It's not as good as those artists best work, but it's a fun and enjoyable album.
Nouns is one of my favorite releases of 2008. If you're a fan of Sonic Youth, Husker Du, or Dinosaur Jr, chances are you'll enjoy this band, or if you're just tired winsome and limp indie rock, then check out this album. No Age also gets point for the packaging, which comes with a book full of photos. It's nice to see a band make an effort in that department for a change.