With their third LP, Montreal’s brightest post-punk group explores the reaches of the genre. Polished and tightly packed at a tidy 40 minutes, it proves to be their most accessible release to date. Wandering between droning guitar, upbeat rhythms, and ballad-flavoured grandiose, the band seems to be stretching its limbs and displaying their flexibility. But along with this sonic diversity is a softening of the bite that has defined Ought’s sound. Though, through a strong execution, this shift comes across as less of a loss and more of a change of direction.
They waste no time in getting into it. The opening track, “Into The Sea,” does what its title suggests, plunging you right into the depths with heavy piano chords and the characteristic poetry of frontperson, Tim Darcy. Gradually, the song trades the piano for guitar, melancholy for aggression, and it builds into an electric tension.
Although Darcy’s vocal and verbal stylings draw obvious inspirations from David Byrne and The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, he brings his own charm. Abrupt, fluctuant, and at times soft as cotton, the singer evokes a whole spectrum of feeling. Sometimes he screeches, sometimes he whispers.
In only nine songs, there is enough lyrical substance to glut even the most literary listeners. Take the track “Brief Shield,” for instance, in which Darcy comments on the false securities of life and love, saying, “Hold my hand / I’ll be your someday / The shadow on the land, it creeps on patient / The ugly years of violent men too creep on.”
While the instrumentation wanders varied soundscapes, one follows willingingly because Ought knows the direction. On “These 3 Things,” the listener is introduced to a funky, glitchy beat that just asks us to dance. And directly after, “Desire” is a five minute rise to new heights with a chorus of choir singers backing the vocals, and wrapping the song in a gospel sentiment.
Through highs and lows, Room Inside The World leaves the listener with a knowledge that much can be experienced on one record and even more encapsulated in a room.