Ought find their groove with third album Room Inside the World

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.

rating 6

Best Tracks Of The Week (Oct 30th – Nov 5th)

Contributions from Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler), Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster), Sean Hannah (@shun_handsome) Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Pinegrove – Intrepid

Unashamedly raw with an enticing, emotionally gooey centre, the latest track from alt-rock New Jersey outfit is one that feels as tight as it does evocative.

With a wide array of beautiful lyrics as well some perfectly natural performances, Intrepid is certain to nuzzle its way into Pinegrove‘s setlists as well as into the heart of anyone willing enough to risk shedding a few tears.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Spray Paint Love

We gave this song the full review treatment but for the sake of its inclusion, here’s a little line or two: a sultry, sleazy track that proves The Rattlesnakes are still full of venom. Screaming riffs coupled with Bon Scott style lyrics make for a dirty dirty.

Flood Manual – Empathy 

We’ve had some very nice things to say about the Manchester boys’ latest EP but a highlight from that release has to be Empathy: a melodic affair that feels pretty delightful with somewhat harsh guitars being pressed together with the aforementioned lovely singing to create a tasty, punky panini a la Weezer.

Keep yer eyes peeled for Flood Manual

N.E.R.D ft Rihanna – Lemon

The Pharrell Williams fronted project’s first single in seven years is a song for 2017; referencing everything from Donald Trump to memes and sampling viral videos, it’s clear the group has plenty of material to work from that they have missed over the years. While the track doesn’t seem to have a clear focus and changes topics several times, it serves well as a comeback.

Announcing its arrival with a massively catchy beat and Pharrell’s flow oozing with A Tribe Called Quest influences, Lemon is exactly what a comeback single should be. Also can Rihanna just have guest verses on everything from now on? Thanks.

Sunflower Bean – I Was A Fool

While it may not be the band’s 22, A Million transformation, Sunflower Bean has managed to craft a charming little track as they make their Mon + Pop label debut. 

“I think this song is a good example of how we’ve grown as a band, while still staying true to the band that first played together back in high school,” is what Nick Kivlin had to say about I Was A Fool and it’s hard to say he’s wrong: restrained in its production, allowing for some gorgeous vocals to take centre stage, it’s a sign of things to come and a relieving one at that.

Ought – These 3 Things

Tim Darcy spent most of 2015’s Sun Coming Down doing his best Mark E. Smith, so it should surprise no one that These 3 Things finds the American-born Canadian transplant moving on to aping Robert Smith.

An angular, 808-driven affair, These 3 Things tracks Ought shifting their influences from the abrasion of late-‘70s post-punk to the dejection of its mid-‘80s predecessor: goth. With his lyrics bordering on Yeatsian, Darcy discovers purpose at the song’s envoy: “I must remember to dance with you tonight/ I must remember I owe my heart.”

Eera – Reflection of Youth

Fervent but subdued, this closing track from EERA‘s debut is a standout, not just due to the fact it’s the most stripped back of the last. Hushed vocals and a laid back guitar are all that is left to be heard as opposed to the harsher structures she has weaved throughout her first LP offering.

While it may sound pretty light, Reflection of Youth is still utterly dazzling, making sure that listeners go out on a delicious, delicate high rather than a messy finale. 

listen to our picks via our swanky wee playlist, updated weekly: