What is it that No Age is so angry about? I keep listening to An Object and I’m wondering who rained on their parade? I mean, they’ve always had this angst-y vibe about them. Everything In Between seemed to be the point where they found the perfect balance of angst and rebellion mixed with a pop appeal, all the while never losing any artistic face. It seemed as if their next album would be a shining achievement. Instead, we get An Object. It’s an album that at times hints at what could’ve been something monumental, but instead it seems to be a line drawn in the sand. If you cross, you enter at your own risk. If you don’t, well then you just don’t understand, man!
“No Ground” opens the album interestingly enough with a delayed guitar, then a driving bass line. That wall of guitar follows with drums hidden in the background behind muddied sonics. Dean Spunt yells about something. He’s angry at “you”. Who “you” is is anybody’s guess. It’s a noisy opener that seems to stay in one mode: disenchanted. “I Won’t Be Your Generator” is a nice surprise. It hints at the greatness of Everything In Between and shows Spunt and Randall less aggravated and more inspired. “C’mon Stimmung” is the sort of dream punk anthem No Age are known best for. Much like “Fever Dreaming” before it, but somehow wore out sounding. As if these two are exhausted trying to figure out how to write a song unconventionally. There’s a back and forth on this album. A back and forth from ear catching to stunted and grating. It’s sonically in a grey area. No bright spots or dark corners. Just sort of muted. There are some really great songs, like “An Impression”, which sounds oddly enough like a lo fi Merriweather Post Pavillion b-side. The aforementioned “I Won’t Be Your Generator”, and “Running From A-Go-Go” both are truly great tunes. The latter half of An Object seems to be where No Age decided to loosen up a bit and allow the songs to breathe and grow naturally, as opposed to keeping with some rigid artistic manifesto.
No Age wants to spit in the face of convention on An Object, and that’s all well and fine. But when you start alienating the ears that have followed you and supported you for so long, well you end up playing to an empty room. Sure there are folks that will adore this record’s droning noise and artistic vision. The fellas even went so far as to make the packaging for the record and ship the “objects” themselves, bringing them that much closer to the fans that bought the album. I think that’s admirable, I really do. But I’d rather the artist concentrate more on the balance between the art’s validity and intent, and less on printing UPS labels. I want to be challenged as a listener and lover of art. I don’t want easy entertainment. I want it to grow on me, and there are some songs on this record that I’m sure will grow on me as time goes by. But when you make an album so hard to break into and get to know, there’s lots of folks that will just drop it and move on. An Object is an admirable try at an artistic statement. Too bad that statement is so hard to understand at times.
6.1 out of 10