By Jarrett Edmund
CALGARY – Following the release of their sophomore album Sun Coming Down, Montreal’s Ought took a brief reprieve as frontman Tim Darcy produced and toured his first solo record. Saturday Night was a noticeable change of pace for Darcy, who found himself revisiting songs he had written as a teenager while also exploring his range as a vocalist. This artistic sabbatical would provide the crucial backdrop for Ought’s most ambitious effort to date. Room Inside the World deconstructs any notion of their previous identity in the post-punk canon, offering scaled-down arrangements that are more akin to jazz and new-wave. Gone is Darcy’s signature monotone drawl, the monolithic brick walls of sound, and the mundane poetry that fueled breakthrough hit ‘Beautiful Blue Sky.’ In its place is a much more complex caricature, a cultural critique with nuance as opposed to frustration, and a band redefining their catalogue while rejecting the low-hanging fruit of a tumultuous political climate. If their previous two albums were fueled by Darcy’s obfuscate external commentary, Room Inside the World is their mature, inward, and isolated opposite.
With the stark tonal contrast of their new material, their greatest challenge would be blending their frenetic back catalogue in a live performance. Openers Slut Prophet set the tone early with a flurry of dizzying takedowns, skewering everything from teenage apathy to gender expectations. Tourmates Flasher got the crowd moving with a set punctuated by frenzied basslines and breezy hooks. Returning to the Palomino for the first time in over two years, Ought kept the crowd in anticipation with an extended break from their openers. Once they took the stage they kept their pace quick, rattling off a string of songs from Room Inside the World before harkening back to Sun Coming Down’s opener ‘Men for Miles’. Crowd favorites ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’ and ‘Habit’ fit snugly within a set largely devoted to their new album. But a particularly chatty Monday night crowd made quiet cuts like ‘Alice’ harder to process. As is often the case when a band stakes out a bold new direction, there was a noticeable disconnect between newer fans and the droves of dudes desperate to thrash to the tempestuous first two albums. But Ought remained indifferent to the crashing waves in front of them, cruising through their set with precision and confidence.
It is within this tidal conflict where Room Inside the World drifts along. Where the difference between a good day and a bad day is as fickle as the forecast. And where buoyancy itself has become an act of resistance.live review, Ought, Room Inside the World, Sun Coming Down