No Age pairs its raucous art punk sound with introspective lyrics on new LP, Goons Be Gone

Photo Courtesy of Drag City

Goons Be Gone, No Age’s fifth LP and second on Drag City, furthers the L.A noise punks’ exploration of dense guitar textures and fiery drumming. Guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/singer Dean Spunt return with 11 new songs that are as loud as they are intricate, pondering existential questions through relatable lyrics that don’t always specify a context.

The album kicks off with “Sandalwood,” a punk song that channels West Coast beach vibes. Spunt scowls in a Ramones-like vocal delivery, pausing only to play a spacey guitar riff that punctuates the track. It’s not the strongest song on the record, but it quickly cultivates momentum and sets up what follows.

The next song, a rumbling single called “Feeler,” introduces tremolo-ed out guitar chords and crisp, bright drumbeats to form a hazy cloud of psych punk. Although the lyrics of “Feeler” cleverly nod to the Modern Lovers’ “Astral Plane,” the track’s highlight is a crystalline guitar solo that shoots like a laser across a reverberating background. These components make “Feeler” a standout track and one of the most enjoyable on Goons.

The album’s lead single, a rocker called “Turned To String,” is equally electric and is on par with some of the band’s past favorites such as “Eraser” and “Fever Dreaming.” The song moves along with a great punkish bounce and has an instrumental bridge that doubles its already high intensity. Spunt’s drum rolls also give the track some rhythmic flair.

On another single, “Head Sport Full Force,” Randall delivers his best guitar performance, playing a catchy and dynamic main riff accented by flourishes of noise and feedback. Throughout the album, his guitar tones morph to suit each song and add layers of depth that expand the duo’s sonic size.

But, along with the many noise rock cuts Spunt and Randall animate on Goons Be Gone, parts of its 33 minute runtime border on ambient. At the album’s halfway mark, the song “Toes In The Water” plays out like a three minute rest stop of sampled loops, fuzzy, amorphous electric guitar and a chirping synth. The beginning of the track “Smoothies” also features a mesmerizing ambient guitar intro before the drums come in and Spunt goes into a laidback ode to his tambourine, singing lines such as “My tambourine/I’d like to know/what factory/let you go.” These slower and more restrained tracks act as the zenful yin to the singles’ chaotic yang.

As far as themes go on Goons Be Gone, many songs focus on nostalgia and reflection, with lyrics often questioning the past. On “A Sigh Clicks,” Spunt sings, “I’d like to know your story of wasted time and space,” atop an instrumental that’s on the verge of falling apart. The hook of “Turned To String” also engages with shared experiences in the lyrics, “I’m not in the footsteps of your time/But I already know too much.” There’s a sense in the lyrics on this record that Spunt is attempting to unpack the present by reflecting on the past.

Although No Age mostly sticks to the sound and formula it’s cultivated over its career, Goons Be Gone offers enough colorful textures and delightfully universal lyrics to give listeners a reason to return for more. It’s a record that maintains the band’s raucous appeal while offering a handful of welcome deviations.

4/5

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