Perhaps the closest thing to streamlined indie rock that Constellation records has ever signed, locals Ought have occasionally raised eyebrows with the more accessible, hook-driven side of their catalog. Signifying the band’s move to Merge, Room Inside the World continues the trend of cleaning up their sound with a generally less jittery overarching feeling, but fleshes out the more tender emotions that classics like “Forgiveness” strived for—on “Desire,” vocalist Tim Darcy’s urgent mannerisms get backed up by a choir. The sense of scrappy youth has faded a bit, but their potency still comes from the emotional energy that’s always served as a backdrop to more anxiety driven jams.
What a call.
After you conquer the world on the back of your major label debut, you decide to take a step back and assess your bag of tricks rather than falling into one of the many traps that second albums can turn into. Especially when you’ve already done the operatic track built on a single twinkling guitar string, things can get hairy, overambitious, and a songwriter can loose the scrappy teenage urgency that made them loveable in the first place.
Luckily for Will Toledo, his high school material was both massively ambitious and heart-warmingly goofy–and he made a shit-ton of it. Strapped with seemingly only a guitar and a fist full of life-sized teenage emotions Toledo blisters through giant landscapes with the wide-eyed childlike look of a happy-go-lucky teenager who just got his heart broken for the first time.
“Give me Frank Ocean’s Voice and James Brown’s stage presence.”
“is it the chorus yet? No, it’s only the building of the verse so when the chorus does come it’ll be more rewarding”
These aren’t lines you can write outside of your teenage years and yet Toledo also touches upon ideas that resonate deep into the 20s when he asks “are we boyfriends yet?”
The revising of the album has only amplified this masterful balance of sober realities and blunt humor. “Bodys” gets a raucous drum-machine foundation and actually-executed beach boys “oohs” but the image it conjures is still a lanky 16 year old who finally feels confident enough to make-out with someone.
Maybe it’s cheating to tweak a fan favorite, but the vision has been honed and when you’ve written so many albums already, maybe it’s not a bad idea to give those who love you most a co-production credit.