When you're in a band like No Age, you get to a certain point in your career where you ask yourself, 'where the hell are we supposed to go next?' Now on their fourth album, and their first in 3 years, the LA duo - Randy Randall and Dean Allen Sprunt - have answered that question with what could very likely be their best album to date.

Is An Object a step forward for the band? Yes, definitely, but not half as much as it is a step sideways. They've wrong-footed essentially everyone. Is it a punk album? Yes, very much so, but not in the same way that their first three albums were. It has a hazy, almost shoegazy feel that runs through every moment of its 29 minutes - their shortest album yet, but not by much.

I've seen it described as 'dream punk' elsewhere, and I'll have to go with that, because otherwise it's not particularly easy to pin down. It's certainly not conventional punk rock, at least: Sprunt's drumming is powerful, but you sure as hell can't hear that - his galloping rhythms on 'Lock Box' are muted by an unconventional drum setup that involves such things as 4-string bass guitars, prepared speakers, lumber and metal. You know... as you do. Randall, meanwhile, has stripped things back considerably, striking a balance between ambience and pure pop on 'Running From A-Go-Go', while the swirling synths and omnipresent drone of the surprisingly short 'My Hands, Birch and Steel' is an unprecedented leap into the unknown for the duo. Even the jagged, one-note hook of opener 'No Ground' is curiously muted, but that track's immediacy cuts through the fog of (one suspects, deliberate) under-production to set the tone for the record as a whole.

Of course, the pair can sound pretty huge if they want to - as evinced by the punchy lead single, 'C'mon, Stimmung', or the shoegaze-indebted closing track 'Commerce, Comment, Commence' - but on the whole, An Object is all about stripping things back, which ensures that the album is never anything less than fascinating. As you listen to it, you wonder how they're going to recreate it live, but at the very least, the studio incarnations of these 11 songs can exist in their own world.

No Age have struck out on their own, and their fourth album is a bold statement from a pair who refuse to rest on their laurels. For avid fans of their earlier material, it may seem a little weird, initially, but 'weird' has rarely sounded this good.