words by kezia cochrane
Capturing the anxieties of modern life with astute wit and insightful observation, Ought have carved out a distinctive space, over the course of their previous two albums, for their urgent yet precise post-punk sensibilities. Room Inside the World, their third full-length, sees an undeniable gracefulness come to the fore, a quality that has always lurked under the somewhat more frenetic surface of Ought’s sound but here prevails with nuanced maturity.
There’s a sonic grandeur to the sustained piano chords that open ‘Into the Sea’ befitting of Tim Darcy’s rich, resonant enunciations that glide formidably above a spiralling flurry of frantic guitars riffs and the driving, percussive crescendo. Darcy’s vocals have a smoother, emotive textural depth to them on these tracks, yet that isn’t to say his delivery, or the impact, is any less formidable.
The band’s acute contemplations and evocation of an all too familiar despondency is projected through an expansive sonic range, surging through the jolted rhythms of ‘Disaffection’ to the atmospheric melancholy of ‘Alice’, imbuing the nervy, chaotic bursts of 2015’s Sun Coming Down with a newfound sense of carefully considered deliberation that still retains their compellingly sharp edge whilst intensifying the lingering effect of the music.
‘These Three Things’, their most infectiously danceable track to date offering a pop tinge to Ought’s spiky sound, effervesces with a fusion of hazy synths and a driving, metronome-esque beat over which Darcy’s yowling and yearning vocals glide. Whilst ‘Desire’ features a choral accompaniment to his raw, earnest enunciations, soaring with lilting melodies and a harmonious majesty as Darcy sings “you smiled so much you got creases on your face, the kind that give you grace”, evoking a glimmering moment of beauty amidst a seemingly relentless desolation, before sparse, crashing cymbals wash over like stormy waves, permeated with a potent sense of longing.
As Ought explore and wrestle with the perpetual difficulties of existence a and constantly creeping ennui that has always concerned them, they purvey a particularly meticulous elegance on Room Inside the World; the record still surges with their captivating, distinctive angst yet within these tracks they also offer a certain respite as, with a slight, albeit reluctant, acceptance, of this world they consider human connectivity with a perceptive and discerning pertinence. Closing with a sighing, droning exhalation Room Inside the World comprises their most contemplative album thus far and firmly cements Ought as some of the most formidably sophisticated post-punks around.