By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
Back with their third album, Canadian post-punk players Ought will be looking to continue to refine & build on their poetic grooves. So, let’s see what their new record, Room Inside the World, is all aboot, eh?
Compared to their previous two offerings, More Than Any Other Day and Sun Coming Down, Room Inside the World could be accused of playing it safe in its delivery, or those who are less cynical would agree that Ought have found comfort in their style, whilst closely winking towards their influences. To help them in writing & recording this album, the band made a mood board to help them cut through the noise. Without sounding too churlish, there was probably a honking great picture of Robert Smith on it.
It’s a patchwork blanket of an album that refuses to sit still as Tim Darcy’s fractured vocals manage to glide eloquently over its catchy pop hooks. However, in this patchworked album, you can imagine that the quality is a bit hit and miss, too. On the record’s second track Disgraced in America, the music fades into textbook nothingness and to be honest, drives you to switch the damn thing off. But if you’re willing to hold on, you’ll be greatly rewarded.
On a nine-track LP, it’s pretty easy to pick up on the perfect moments, and Desire is that magical moment. This is where Ought step out of their comfort zone, a bold move in an otherwise stable album. Dreamy as your high school sweetheart, Desire is a beautifully layered mix of ethereal synths, saxophones and oh… how about a big old choir for good measure? Sure, the band are minimalist in their delivery, but come on, when a huge choir absolutely shunts into you, you’ve gotta go along with it.
Having such a short LP is always beneficial as well; in the age of deluxe mega monolithic editions, bursting with interludes and skits, it’s really refreshing to be over and done with in 40 minutes. It leaves everything feeling fresh, instead of getting halfway through the album only to wish it would just end already.
For a band so willing to experiment in the past, you could poke them in the chest and accuse them of resting on their laurels a bit, but this third album feels like Ought have gotten comfortable. They’ve settled into their journey but they haven’t slowed down at all. There’s a familiarity in album opener Into The Sea as well as Disaffectation, really bedding into Ought’s style, but the idea that they’ve gotten sloppy is daft. A band can’t be expected to experiment sonically forever or write nine genre-crossing tracks. Sometimes you’ve got to stick to what you know and build on it.
Ought need an identity, and with Room Inside the World, they’ve continued to innovate whilst occasionally wandering into unfamiliar territory. Fans who want a band who are constantly trying to twist their sound will be left underwhelmed, but fans who want a good, solid post-punk album with flashes of brilliance will be right at home.