Review Summary: Ought perform a distinctly inspirational brand of post-punk on their standout debut.
Even though Ought are a young art-punk outfit that only formed in the last couple of years, they've already crafted a fairly distinctive sound. The quartet juxtapose a conversational vocal style hearkening back to the days of Talking Heads with a dissonant, high-strung guitar play and funk-echoing rhythm section both recalling the output of anarcho-punk rockers, The Ex. Ought are extremely capable, and though they wear their influences on their sleeves, one could hardly accuse them of slavish imitation. Their debut album More Than Any Other Day
boasts an aura of positivity that clearly distinguishes them from their apocalypse-obsessed post-punk peers, but there's also an experimental edge to their songs which often ebb and flow unhurriedly, taking their sweet time to unravel.
The band's frontman Tim Beeler delivers his stream-of-consciousness musings with unbridled optimism and unironic humor. The know-it-all narration of 'Habit' revolves around discovering and embracing one's limitations, while the title track implies that even the most mundane moments of everyday life should be treasured. “Today, more than any other day, I am prepared to make the decision between two percent and whole milk,” Beeler states enthusiastically. His post-modernist views feel totally personable even when they are drenched in politics. “We won’t take it anymore,” he attests in the infectious chorus of the stunning 'The Weather Song,' referencing 2012's student protests against drastically rising tuition fees in Quebec. In essence, More Than Any Other Day
is about collective hope, the feeling that people together can stand against copious amounts of adversaries to achieve their common goal. That's by all means an admirable message in any genre of music.
While More Than Any Other Day
might be faultless from an ideological standpoint, the songwriting chops of the quartet are not always on the nose. The album's at its best when Ought seethe with spiraling intensity. 'Habit' is certainly a standout track, splendidly building up from soothing guitar licks to a rapturous finale. Glittering with wobbly guitar swipes that are in stark contrast with Beeler's impactful delivery, 'Clarity!' even manages to up the ante when it comes to the sheer visceral power. However, when the band holds back on such tracks as 'Forgiveness' and 'Around Again' the record just loses steam. It seems that a more focused, tighter songwriting approach would obliterate the meandering passages and smooth out the rough edges. Ought have plenty of time to hone their craft, though. For now their debut release shows great promise, deftly combining the ferocity of punk with soul-baring lyricism.