Last year, the L.A. guitar-drums duo No Age put out a likable debut album called Weirdo Rippers, which collected a series of EPs the band had released on several different labels. It had a bunch of good, deadpan punk tunes on it—very much in the manner of Superchunk and like-minded slacker heroes—along with some arty noise and shoegazey blare. They signed with Sub Pop for the follow-up, Nouns, which is also pretty likable but somewhat more bogged down by lack of focus. What seemed sort of expansively shambolic the first time around feels more simply undisciplined this time. The album has a tendency to dissipate its own momentum with drab ambience (“Keechie”) and formless fuzz (“Impossible Bouquet”).
At the front and back and in between, though, there’s plenty to like: There’s the way the opener erupts from ectoplasmic drone into a mad bash that sounds something like an early Who B-side. And the low-key psychedelic pop of “Things I Did When I Was Dead.” And the straight-up basement thump of “Here Should Be My Home.” The last song is called “Brain Burner,” and at 1:52 of loud, fast snottery (“I couldn’t make it cold, so that’s what I’ve become”) it pretty well lives up to its title. Still, nothing here really advances on Weirdo Rippers, and the less successful experimental stuff makes it sound like the No Agers haven’t really settled on quite what kind of band they want to be.