Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Constellation
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Montreal quartet Ought had one of 2014’s underground sleeper successes with their strikingly idiosyncratic debut album More Than Any Other Day. While the music was frenetic, wired post-punk indie rock there was always a spark of accessible melody present to suggest that they could prosper in the lineage of other dynamic North American indie rock bands like R.E.M. and Sonic Youth.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. It's no surprise that Sun Coming Down is capped at a gracious eight songs. Last year's More Than Any Other Day was a similar length, but its styles and moments of bliss were more hard-earned; particularly on the phenomenal climax of 'Today More Than Any Other Day' where singer/guitarist Tim Darcy celebrated decisions as trivial as which kind of milk to buy.
There are times when it’s easy to despair of indie or alt-rock – call it what you will. Then an album such as Sun Coming Down arrives, and the possibilities open to four people with guitars, bass and drums become apparent again. It’s not as if Ought, three Americans and an Australian based in Montreal, are terribly original; you can hear the staples of alternative music – Wire, Mission of Burma, the Fall – running through every note of their second album.
Is that the sun coming down — or just a giant ball of fire dropping on your head? These Montreal post-punks write harsh songs for harsh times on their excellent second album, building on last year's debut More Than Any Other Day. Tim Darcy squawks about trying to keep what's left of his human feelings alive, over abrasive guitar that clangs like Mission of Burma. When he sneers, "Put on your evening attire/We've got a lot of forgetting to do" in "On The Line," he sounds like a cross between The Fall's Mark E.
Ought really like to blur the line between caustic irony and blunt sincerity. “It fits okay/Don’t take much/ to make my day”, vocalist Tim Darcy says with plainspoken decisiveness before he goes into something of a controlled tantrum. “Celebration, celebration!”, he repeats with such passionate disdain that you can easily imagine him putting on a wide, earlobe to earlobe grin.
Pop music was built on a whole lotta "yeah. " Because saying "yeah" is the most casual, innocuous form of rebellion—there is no easier way of showing you don’t give a fuck than abdicating the responsibility required to enunciate the "s" in "yes. " Seeing it through to the end is a show of diligence and commitment.
“It’s a very astute observation, if I do say so myself. ” Even before he pats himself on the back on “On the Line (Ava Maria),” Tom Beeler Darcy — the wry singer and guitarist driving sputtering post-punk Canadians Ought — has already freewheeled through a seemingly random litany of images: Rome (and a pun involving homophone “roam”), Chicago, ipso facto, Iggy and the Stooges (“I am your dog”), “golden suns,” and greener pastures. The verbal acrobat saves his more acerbic observations for the seven-minute centerpiece of the band’s reasonably optimistic, fiercely intelligent sophomore album, Sun Coming Down.
Seemingly exploding out of nowhere in 2013, Ought’s signing to the legendary Constellation Records was a big win for us as much as them. This sort of brazen and (perhaps naively) rebellious brand of post-punk has been in something of a deficit of late, which seems incongruous in this age of such discontent. Comprising four ex-pats (three ‘Mericans, one Aussie), all of whom came to Montreal as ‘economic refugees’ seeking university education for less than the price of a small fleet of cars, they managed to fire out a heftily potent LP and EP within the space of a few months last year, instantly receiving acclaim and touring internationally what Jazz Monroe aptly described in his DiS review of their debut as their ‘righteous kind of party music’.
Considering the quartet formed only three years ago, Ought present themselves with surprisingly stable form on their sophomore full-length, Sun Coming Down. On last year’s More Than Any Other Day, the band found an artful post-punk voice entirely its own, yet they hadn’t even been a band for even two years. They’ve clearly been absorbing life rapidly in the brief stretch that’s passed in the interim, and the way in which they retell what they’ve seen strikes deep.
As someone who has grown weary of the insular, static nature of indie rock in recent years, I was absolutely floored by Ought’s debut album, More Than Any Other Day. From its intricate-yet-accessible arrangements to the well-timed explosions of fiery passion in each song, Ought crafted music that turned everyday struggles into triumphs, utilizing fraught tension in more subtle ways than we’re used to. It’s a winning formula that the band wisely stick to on their latest album, Sun Coming Down.
After self-releasing their first EP in 2012, Ought subsequently gained a lot of attention and, not long after, a contract with the legendary Constellation Records. In the early days of Ought, Tim Darcy, Matt May, Ben Stidworthy and Tim Keen, (hailing respectively from New Hampshire, New Jersey, Portland and Australia) found themselves sharing a flat in Montreal – no doubt the epicentre of one of the most prolific indie music scenes of the latest 15 years, as well as Constellation's hometown – where they all ended looking for affordable college education. There, the four of them started hanging around the Mile End art community, playing clubs and recording demos in a bedroom/rehearsal space at their place.
A young post-punk band from Montreal, Ought blend economy, immediacy and passion to conjure a sound that is stirringly visceral. Perhaps it's singer/guitarist Tim Darcy's observational lyrics and Sun Coming Down's vague, cerebral poetry and deceptively direct musical attack that make it feel hyper-relatable and relevant to contemporary Western middle-class life. Here and on Ought's 2014 debut, More Than Other Day, Darcy is fascinated by language and meanings and often writes from a dry, incredulous perspective.
It was a refreshing proposition to discover that Constellation Records were releasing a post-punk album full of spiky rhythms and choppy riffs, it was even more pleasing when 2014’s More Than Any Other Day also proved to be one of the best debut albums released that year. Montreal band Ought, eager to keep the momentum of their fantastic debut going, toured the US extensively, got tighter as a band and at the beginning of 2015 headed for studio to write and record follow-up album, Sun Coming Down. The sound of Sun Coming Down is even more economical than their debut.