Fans of Los Angeles' No Age may find Everything in Be-
tween to be an unexpected and pleasurable curveball. Here we find the skuzzy and ethereal duo all grown up, displaying a technical and textural prowess that confirms the hype.
Drummer Dean Spunt twists his minimalist lyrics into disenchanted mantras (adopting a vocal inflection that nods to Daniel Johnston and Calvin Johnson), while guitarist Randy Randall uses his instrument to bludgeon and soar through the musical landscape.
Opener "Life Prowler" is stunning, with its trickling, ringing guitar and staccato drums culminating in a beautiful, shimmering chorus. But overall, the album is a jagged triumph, with caustic or malcontent lyrics and music that is never thoroughly at ease. "Glitter" is a distorted ballad with an embittered message ("I want you back / underneath my skin"); "Fever Dreaming" is a propulsive punk tune that uses an unhinged guitar squelch in place of a chorus; and even the gorgeous instrumental "Positive Amputation" floats a lovely piano figure on a sea of dissonance.
Everything in Between does balance its crankier aspects with some airy and cheerier qualities. The sparkling guitar of "Valley Hump Crash" has an enjoyable reggae-pop bounce, and "Skinned" smoothly coasts on its galloping drums before its wide-open, celebratory conclusion.
No Age's transition from hazy punks to skilled musicians is best heard on unabashed anthem and closer "Chem Trails." The song is a perfect mixture of call-and-response vocals, swinging melodies and a rackety, loose instrumental pileup. It presages an even brighter and more exciting future for the group.