Ought: Room Inside the World

Ryan Reed on May 16, 2018

Part of Ought’s early charm was how they recontextualized post-punk and vintage indie-rock with a jittery modern anxiety: “I’m no longer afraid to die/ ‘Cause that’s all that I have left/ Yes! Yes!” frontman Tim Darcy sang in a deadpan baritone on the lurching “Beautiful Blue Sky” (sort of like Ian Curtis after suffering the existential dread of right-swiping all evening). But, for all their ambition, the Montreal quartet were obviously tethered to those formative influences—they hadn’t quite arrived at their own distinct Ought-ness. Now, with their third LP, Room Inside the World , they’ve built on the foundation of that hero worship with a wider musical palette. There’s a twist around every turn: the percolating vibraphones of “Into the Sea,” the click-clack drum machine on “These 3 Things,” the choral voices and e-bow guitars on “Desire,” the jarring rhythmic and time signature changes that abruptly twist songs into pretzels. These guys haven’t lost their edge: “Into the Sea” is a modern post-post-punk classic, with Darcy moaning gloriously bummed-out lines over a twitchy drum groove. (“Deep blue turns into grey,” he sings, as if watching the summer sky disintegrate.) But the overall vibe here is less aggressive and more ruminative, exemplified by the glorious, celestial crescendo in “Desire.” “Wash away my body, I don’t need it/ I stop moving, slowly glisten, and hurt,” he croons, almost swooning, on “These 3 Things.” It’s the sound of depression— in cinematic hi-fi. 

Artist: Ought
Album: Room Inside the World
Label: MERGE