Ought
Room Inside The World


4.2
excellent

Review

by house cat STAFF
February 16th, 2018 | 160 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: but when is the sun coming back up?

I can only watch the news for so long before it’s clear that I’m commencing my day on a decidedly sour note. In my head, the only good news comes in response to bad news; we wouldn’t have to hear about the selflessness inherent in a candlelight vigil if there was never another mass shooting in the first place. Tim Darcy probably used to watch the news every morning, as sure as the sun rose. He (incidentally) aped morning talk show bloviating with Beautiful Blue Sky, twisting it into something a little bit more ominous, and Men For Miles casted sideways glances at systemic oppression with the disdain of someone who’d been watching it unfold at a distance for years. I don’t think the Tim Darcy we’re introduced to on Room Inside the World watches the news anymore. He now writes music for the same reason we read books, binge watch TV shows, play over hypotheticals in our head before the actual event. It’s escapism. For much of Room Inside the World, Darcy sings like there isn’t any.

On single and early song of the year contender, Desire, the only reprieve is steeped deeply in fiction. Darcy uses the idea of being “featured in a play” -- locking himself in a fantasy -- to paint the only genuine portrait of happiness across the record: “…in it we drove all night and you smiled so much you got creases on your face.” A pleasant scene, sure, but it’s undercut immediately, like a cold splash of water to the face. The wake-up call: ”it was never gonna stay”. The record at large seems to be in that constant tug-of-war between reality and its distractions, and there’s a resultant/residual sense of desperation that Ought can’t shake -- “strange visions” subtly influencing the writing even as the band try to distance themselves from the fraught, skittish post-punk of Sun Coming Down.

Equally as caught-in-between are Darcy’s vocals. On other sites I’ve read complaints about how he intones differently on this record, that his delivery is 90% affectation and only 10% of what it used to be. Unfounded! completely baseless! patently stupid! as I’m wont to shout into the void; though not vis-*-vis the observation itself, but the negative perception. Darcy has certainly sacrificed the bite, the acidity, for something wearier, actually imbued with a few years recess, because perhaps he has changed his mind. Perhaps there is no more room for snark amidst synths and acoustic guitars and a seventy-person choir (!"). Room Inside the World’s Darcy is more interested in coaxing the nuance out of both himself, vocally, and the shadows in his notebook (see: lust and detachment, both on a grand scale and a more intimate one). Who cares if he sounds like a drunken David Byrne, a rabid Nick Cage, an awake Ian Curtis" We get it, internet critic, you listen to new wave. You listen to post-punk. You’re a learned audience member.

The point is that he loses himself in the role he’s conceived, dedicates himself to this play as a means of escape. So too does the band: Disaffectation is a jigsaw puzzle that is wrong, so wrong, but somehow the band make it work, cutting the pieces up in certain ways so that they fit correctly in incorrect places. I genuinely can’t wrap my head around the way the song is structured. It’s probably so simple, but the parts are barely distinguishable from one another -- all synth drone and jittery drumming -- and then it just disassembles itself. The 2015 Ought would’ve rode Disaffectation to its bitter end, but here, they enact it early as some kind of meta-statement on the effects of drug addiction and the like. That’s the bad kind of escapism; this writing music thing is far more autonomous. Lead single These 3 Things is of the same ilk, with Ought in full synthpop mode. The band lean into the bubbly bassline, the glossy guitar sheen et al, because with ample time to themselves, this is what they’ve become.

If Room Inside the World was to posit any kind of all-encompassing question, that would be it: how do we escape the world around us for a minute while still being able to maintain a level of control (perceived or otherwise) over our surroundings" I think Ought is as confused as I am here, though on a musical level, one could argue that they’re as self-assured as they ever were. Correction: more so.

It’s a scary thing not having the answer. The first note I jotted down before trying to write this was “this is the Ought album where Tim Darcy forgets himself” but now I’m thinking it’s the opposite. This is what it sounds like when Darcy goes soul-searching, and along with his soul, he finds more and more questions, such an overwhelming amount of questions, existential and open-ended. Approximating a literal weight on the shoulders. He’s more focused than he’s ever been here, but the ugly, wonderful, self-destructive, cyclical world around him sharpens into focus simultaneously. So Ought attempt to find middle ground a few times on this record. They try donning a Brief Shield, they try demarcating the boundaries between thoughts and actions, they try digging back into the past. Everything falls short, and if that’s the case forever and ever, Tim Darcy has a lot of explaining to do.

As the closer, Alice, descends into ambience, we resort to scrambling for smaller consolations. Temporary treatments, not cures. Don’t watch the news. Make sure you lock your room from the inside. But I guess first and foremost, listen to this record; it’s post-punk theatre through and through, full of bright colours and left turns, with enough returning cast members to keep the old heads in their seats (“bring back the old Ought!”). It raises an important quandary, but I think I’m able to wait another three years for something resembling an answer if this is the kind of hospitality I’m granted in the interim.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
verdant
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2018


2187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

beautifulweathertodaybeautifulweathertodayBEAUTIFULWEATHERTODAYBEAUTIFULWEATHERTODAY

danielcardoso
February 16th 2018


11684 Comments


This rules and you rule too.

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2018


2338 Comments


neg

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2018


2396 Comments


Your description of Disaffectation is perfect.

Digging: Misery Club - Club Misery

Lucid
February 16th 2018


9670 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Tim sounds like a walrus bleeding out

verdant
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2018


2187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

rly eloquent and trenchant walrus tho??

Papa Universe
February 16th 2018


15284 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

i approve of these messages, even though you stole my spotlight

Digging: Melody's Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage

verdant
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2018


2187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

i've had this dibsed ever since i heard disgraced in america staff perks BABEYYYY

kylemccluskey
February 16th 2018


173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great piece, Jack! Very much looking forward to hearing this thing.

jtswope
February 16th 2018


5776 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

His vocals on this remind me of Scott Walker and I dig

Frivolous
February 16th 2018


783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is amazing

Digging: Sophie - Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides

Tyler.
February 16th 2018


14760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

not feeling this too much i gotta say

Papa Universe
February 16th 2018


15284 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I demand the BNM stamp!

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2018


8100 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

a 3 will do for this.. lots of smooth melodies and great things happening here, but wishy washy in spirit..

Digging: Children's Hour - Looking for the Sun

Papa Universe
February 16th 2018


15284 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

hmmmm...

verdant
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2018


2187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

butcher and tyler go sit in your respective corners

FreddieDelaney31
February 16th 2018


3991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

For the love of all that is holy someone tell this poor guy he can't sing. Like, wow.

Digging: Petal - Magic Gone

verdant
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2018


2187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

hi and also no

FreddieDelaney31
February 16th 2018


3991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

To each their own but his voice made me laugh out loud at multiple points and I feel like that wasn't the intention is imagine

skoopy48
February 17th 2018


2009 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I really don't get the complaints I've seen about his voice. I think it's a great fit for their sound. As for the record itself, it is certainly more subtle than the last and it's going to take me a few listens to see whether or not that's a progression I can get behind.



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