A Study in Temperance
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.