Ought ‘Sun Coming Down’ – Review

15 Oct

It’s impossible to listen to Ought and not instantly start listing comparisons in your head: Talking Heads, Joy Division, The Fall, LCD Soundsystem, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah etc. Their sound is inherently referential – how could it not be when you’re a young indie band starting off in 2015? But what is striking upon listening to ‘Sun Coming Down’ is how little any of that matters. When something is this good, who cares what it reminds you of, even if it reminds you of a lot. On ‘Sun Coming Down’ Ought make a good case for being heirs to the indie rock crown – of the current crowd, only Parquet Courts make music this exhilarating whilst remaining such rigid purists.

Frontman Tim Darcy Has it – that inexplicable, magnetic, alluring quality of the best frontmen. When the band perform you understand you are in the presence of a star. It’s in his facial expressions, the way he wags his fingers and moves his hips, his odd style and the unusual timbre of his voice. It’s in his peculiar mannerisms, his unlocatable accent, his odd ticks and his unguarded enthusiasm. Ought’s debut never wholly managed to be as engaging as their live show but ‘Sun Coming Down’ is more consistently charismatic and charming. From the frantic opening, ‘Men for Miles’ to ‘Never Better’, The album is rich in personality.

‘Sun Coming Down’ is built around its central track, the brilliant ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’. At seven minutes long, ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’ is a quietly tortured epic for our strange times. Darcy mocks the banality of small talk as he navigates his way through the working day. Conversational lines like ‘How’s the family’ and ‘good weather we’re having’ are repeated in a sarcastic tone, the vinegary attitude and frantic delivery conveying building despair. The chorus is even better; an ephiany delivered with the unbridled glee of a man who has gone past the brink and come to terms with his own mortality, no longer crippled by fear. ‘I’m no longer afraid to die because that is all that I have left. YES!’

Not everything on ‘Sun Coming Down’ is as captivating as ‘Beautiful Blue Sky’, in fact some of it falls considerably short. The title track is six minutes of noisy and unmoving guitar music that never latches on to a melody and this signals a downward spiral. The record’s second half becomes more sluggish and, frankly, downright prickly – with lots of Contrasting tempos, corrosive feedback, tuneless noodling and obtuse lyrics. There is the nagging and persistent feeling that Ought are a great band who have yet to unleash there full potential over a full album. But ‘Sun Coming Down’ is an improvement on their debut. Here we have moments of almost unrivalled creativity from a young band working within the parameters of indie rock. It gives you hope for the future of the genre.

8/10

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