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Ought - Room Inside The World (Album Review)

Thursday, 01 March 2018 Written by Ben Gallivan

It’s been a couple of years since we heard something new from the Montreal art-punkers Ought, which is surprising given the bombardment of material that the world was subjected to a couple of years back: an EP and a couple of albums in the space of 18 months. But what an exciting bombardment it was.

An early self-release, ‘New Calm’, dropped a little while after the band formed in 2012, and their following output was swift, fresh and hugely diverting. ‘More Than Any Other Day’ – their debut album from 2014 -  saw the band become lauded all over the world. Multiple appearances on end-of-year lists were inevitable and forthcoming, as was the ‘Once More with Feeling’ EP, which was squeezed in before the year was out.

Released in 2015, ‘Sun Coming Down’ carried on in the same vein and produced some of their finest work to that point, particularly the epic Beautiful Blue Sky. In their time away, frontman Tim Darcy released a solo LP, ‘Saturday Night’, and here he again takes a prominent role.

Darcy has always been something of a lyrical and vocal gymnast, but on ‘Room Inside the World’ he takes things to a whole new level. His sardonic, playful delivery has been likened to Talking Heads’ David Byrne and the late Mark E. Smith – and rightly so as they clearly are influences – but something else is afoot.

On opener Into the Sea (already very likely to be the best thing you’ve heard so far in 2018) Darcy sounds like Elvis Presley gone full crooner. On second listen, there’s a hint of the Human League’s Phil Oakey and U2’s Bono in there too.

The band seem to use the same methods in putting together a record here as they have in the past. We do get an extra track (nine rather than the eight on the previous records, although closer Alice wouldn’t look too out of place on a b-sides EP), but the overall feel is similar.

We start off with urgency in the first half, including the very ‘Heads-esque Disaffectation and These Three Things, before settling down into a more relaxed, downbeat second segment. Desire is a beauty and, while Darcy’s vocals are in danger of getting a little tiresome at times, there’s a simple beat and bassline underpinning it all, allowing the hushed backing tones of a gospel choir to cover his vocal tics for now.

One thing of note, though, is the lack of an overtly experimental track. Everything is a lot more accessible musically and the production values are a little more polished. The tunes are still very much there even if the challenges are few and far between – perhaps that’s what we all need? An Ought album without all the complicated stuff?

Whereas ‘More Than Any Other Day’ was a near-classic from the end of the first listen, ‘Room Inside the World’ may take a little more getting used to. There isn’t a signature Ben Stidworthy bassline (a la Habit and Beautiful Blue Sky) here but there is a richer overall sound; one that should pick up more new fans and cement a firm relationship with the current ones.

Ought Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri April 20 2018 - BRISTOL Exchange
Sat April 21 2018 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sun April 22 2018 - GLASGOW Stereo
Mon April 23 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
Tue April 24 2018 - LONDON Garage

Click here to compare & buy Ought Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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