Growing old is hard. Doing it in a band must be doubly so, especially in one that has arguably already hit it’s peak within the paltry 5 years of life. No Age are not ones for convention, though – these are two people who have played a gig in a river, for god’s sake – but the tapping of their heads on the glass ceiling placed upon their talent must surely be frustrating. Having hit heady heights with their seminal 2008 effort Nouns and dealt with the ubiquity that followed such riches, the duo can now truly be considered amongst the kings of their genre, whatever that is.
Two years on from the album that catapulted them to international hipster stardom, the duo have been keeping themselves busy, having put out an EP and kept up the hectic touring that has been such a firm base of their cult status. Everything In Between, then, is there first real effort after the maelstrom of critical acclaim – and the first with the enormous pressure that comes with it.
The answer to the problem of an expanding group of talented imitators is one that will sound familiar to anyone who’s paid more than passing attention to their work since 2007’s splendid debut Weirdo Rippers. The formulae at the heart of their work has remained largely the same since those early, often written about days at ‘The Smell’ – the urgent, immediate rattle of guitar, distorted vocals over the top, peppered with psychedelic and drone influences. The tweaks since then have understandably been minor, maturity bringing slightly more space and clarity to their songs, a process that should probably be described as ‘mellowing’, even with all the middle age, un-punk connotations that brings.
Everything in Between’s tracks in themselves are splendid, but much like the Losing Feeling EP that came before it, this still feels like the work of a band in transition. Though the base ingredients remain the same for the moment, the edges have been somewhat smoothed down over time to create a more well rounded, if slightly duller product. There are still spiky moments of delight – ‘Fever Dreaming’ filling the alternative dance floor void left by ‘Teen Creeps’, and lead track ‘Glitter’ still better than pretty much anything the chasing pack have managed to come up with.
This is undoubtedly a brilliant album, and it’d be criminal if it weren’t atop plenty of the end of year lists that are fast approaching, but the sense that it is in its predecessor’s shadow still persists. When you’ve mastered such a brilliant, distinguishable racket, the choice is to either move on or to try and outdo yourself. No Age are moving on by degrees, surely but surely. They might not have made the seminal follow up that many would’ve hoped for, but there’s the remaining sense that there’s another masterpiece on the horizon. In the mean time, it’s enough to appreciate the wonderful sounds that these fractions of separation are producing.