A Study in Tem­per­ance

Exclaim! - - REVIEWS - MATT BOBKIN

Ought

Room In­side the World

Ought started their ca­reer sprint­ing, in more ways than one. By re­leas­ing two al­bums and an EP in a 17-month pe­riod dur­ing 2014 and 2015, the Mon­treal quar­tet es­tab­lished their ex­plo­sive brand of post-punk, find­ing beauty and peace in life’s mun­dan­i­ties and shout­ing about it at the top of their lungs. Third LP, Room In­side the World,

is a well-timed palate cleanser that moves to­ward a less brash but just as bold ap­proach, while stay­ing true to Ought’s ethos. De­lib­er­ately tak­ing things down a notch, Room In­side the World is a study in tem­per­ance, opt­ing for slower builds in be­tween bursts of post-punk fury. The pri­mary change is front­man Tim Darcy singing melod­i­cally, in con­trast to the David Byrne-af­fected yelp found all over Ought’s first two LPs. Em­bold­ened by the re­lease of his 2017 solo de­but Satur­day Night, Darcy’s more tra­di­tional ap­proach to vo­cals finds him no less dis­tinct a vo­cal­ist, im­bu­ing the new ma­te­rial with plenty of trade­mark the­atri­cal­ity.

A bal­ance be­tween re­straint and dis­ori­en­ta­tion is most im­pres­sively struck on “Disgraced in Amer­ica,” where haunt­ing whines slowly in­crease through­out the track like an omi­nous cloud on the hori­zon — on fur­ther lis­tens, the com­par­a­tively jaunty in­tro can never be heard the same way again. It’s an im­pres­sive feat that show­cases how Ought are mov­ing for­ward on Room In­side the World, adding new el­e­ments to their sound while largely re­tain­ing the ten­sion that makes the band so com­pelling. (Royal Moun­tain, royal­moun­tain­records.com)

There’s more re­straint on this record — what led to that?

Darcy: The push be­hind the first two records was that we re­ally saw our­selves as a live band. We knew that we wanted to not do that again and we wanted to com­bine that with a more stu­dio-heavy ap­proach. We knew that if we were gonna make that, we were gonna have to think much more in­ten­tion­ally about the types of sounds that we wanted to get be­fore we went into the stu­dio.

Who are your main vo­cal in­spi­ra­tions?

There are peo­ple like Bob Dy­lan that are th­ese sort of har­row­ing vo­cal­ists, where they re­ally present a very au­then­tic and driven sort of lyric con­veyor, and then there are other peo­ple like Judee Sill, where there are re­ally po­tent lyrics, but it’s also about the sort of melodic move­ments in the voice. I like both of those things equally, and I find that I draw from both. Think­ing about this new Ought record, I wanted to com­bine both of those more flu­idly and to main­tain more of a con­sis­tency through­out the record. I hope that comes across.

ROCK

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