9 Sep 2015

Ought / Sun Coming Down (album review)

Lots of bands try to put their own unique spin on the classic 'post-punk' sound, with some of the best of those being Liars, Sauna Youth and Eagulls. However, with their ambitious song structures, off-kilter post-modern lyrics, and frontman Tim Darcy's unique persona and voice, Ought are probably the most exciting, fresh post-punk bands on the circuit today. With their first album, More Than Any Other Day, the band established themselves as a really exciting band, and over the course of 8 well-written songs with some pretty special lyrics, riffs and chord progressions, their first album was a very accomplished piece of work (#10 in our albums of the year!). However, 15 months down the line, they're ready to put out their sophomore album, Sun Coming Down - an equally warped post-punk record, which although emerging quickly from the aftermath of their second, doesn't feel in any way rushed - in fact, it's really a record that sees the young Canadian band come of age.

Opener Men For Miles is maybe the fastest guitar track on the record, which sees frontman Tim Darcy's lyrics as sharp as ever. "Excuse me?" he asks "Is there a chance you could bring this whole fucker down" over some youthful guitar thrashes and a fairly driving bassline. The fact that it's probably the most energetic, vicious track on the record lines it up with their debut album's opener Pleasant Heart, which is an uncharacteristically angry riff fest.

Throughout the record Ought are altogether happy to change directions and speed at the flick of a finger. Track 2 is a somber affair called Passionate Turn that is probably the slowest number on the record with the most glistening harmonic chords that are quite a staple of Ought's sound. Track 3, The Combo and later on the record, Celebration, are two shorter tracks that are the most dramatic moves away from the sound on their first album, with their Fall-esque vocals, and their distorted guitar parts. Although Ought cover a lot of musical ground on this album, it's still very much perfectly honed in every area, just like More Than Any Other Day, but even from there, the band have stepped it all up a gear.

The highlights, Men For Miles aside, come from the two songs Beautiful Blue Sky and Sun Coming Down, which are just Ought at their most... Oughtlike. Beautiful Blue Sky is an eight minute long escalater that begins with Darcy's simple vocal of "Look at the light coming down over your shoulders/what is that sensation?", before building up to the frantic questioning of "How's your family? How's the job? How's the house? How's the job? How's your husband?", and the bold statement of "I am no longer afraid to die.../ and I'm no longer afraid to dance tonight". It's Ought at their most ambitious, their most charismatic, and really, at their most beautiful, as the song is actually one of the most life affirming songs I've heard all year.

The title track's slow, distorted wheeze is again so musically brilliant, but what makes it better is Tim Darcy's performance of his lyrics. "My neighbour caught the sun/It was about the size of a beach ball" is just so instantly memorable, and so endearingly quirky, and is probably my favourite Ought lyric since the should-be-indie-disco-floorfiller-but-isn't New Calm Pt 2's "Who invited Paul Simon? I didn't invite him!"

The lyrics to this album are, like some of the earlier stuff by this band, full of contrasts and those odd thoughts about small decisions. From Beautiful Blue Sky, where Tim kinda implies that the decision between dancing and not dancing is just as important as whether or not you should be afraid to die, which is similar to the importance foisted upon the decision of whether to buy "two percent or whole milk" in the Today More Than Any Other Day song. Again this is present throughout Sun Coming Down, as the album is just jam packed with lyrics that make you think, and is all the better for it - he might claim to be "Talking out my arse" on the title track, but Tim Darcy's lyrics are some of the coolest and most literate in music today.

Their first album is what I'd describe as the epitome of a modern classic; memorable, tight, fresh, and full of lots of brilliant, well written songs. But even more amazingly, Sun Coming Down is one up from that; it's another modern classic that's even more instantly memorable, even more quirky and even more brilliant. Ought are a really special, unique band, and this record reflects that - make sure you get it next week.


you can preorder the album SUN COMING DOWN from here
it's out on 18th september and you really really should buy it
you can read about why this band stole our fest at end of the road here

(written by calum cashin)