Music Reviews
Goons Be Gone

No Age Goons Be Gone

(Drag City) Rating - 7/10

No Age’s Randy Randall and Dean Spunt aren’t exactly playing fair on their fifth album. In spite of basically every sweaty live music club in America being shut down since mid-March, these guys make you long for the pressed in punk rock shows of old—bodies on bodies and an occasional vocal spray from the direction of the drum kit nothing to be afraid of. After their prior Drag City release, Snares Like A Haircut, captured the pinnacle of the duo’s mix of experimentation and noisy bursts, Goons Be Gone primarily goes for the throat. More straightforward and pummeling than anything they have done to date, it’s nonetheless fully welcomed into the current void.

The opening Sandalwood has a Jaggerish swagger about it, and Randall leads in with a Satisfaction style riff that is disarmingly direct. The base joy of pounded drum skins, layers of buzzy guitars, and Spunt’s impassioned vocals command early attention while the murkier instrumental passages, with their mechanical “Ah, ahs,” add a touch of complexity. Feeler has a brighter lead line that continually cuts under Spunt’s snotty sneer. But the high water mark for the album is War Dance, with its frantic pace and recurring complaint: “I’m astonished by your ignorance today.”  

There are only a handful of tracks that lean into the more experimental end, and those are primarily devoid of vocals. The tape loops and fuzz of Toes In The Water cover over an underlying industrial clank that’s reminiscent of where the duo was going on earlier works. While the repetitive A Sigh Clicks recalls an air raid siren drill that goes on a little longer than the government imposed ones. The back of the album may lack for more distinguishing moments, but closes with another full-on head bobber in Agitating Moss.  

Goons Be Gone won’t go down as No Age’s best, but it benefits from its directness. Randall and Spunt flail around at punk’s boundaries as good as anyone, and a No Age release always brings anticipation of where they might go next. That they ended up exploring a more impassioned and free-spirited side of themselves in and of itself ends up being the surprising move here. Whether the album takes you back to punk’s early anti-establishment days or just makes you want to get back out into the clubs, Goons Be Gone does its job well.