Outfit – Slowness // Album Review

91798Memphis Industries – out now

For all the aspirations to elaborate, classical grandeur on Outfit’s second album – the poignant piano über alles, the empty space, minor-keys and sinuous vocal progressions, it is the more contemporary, straightforward touches that are the most affecting. The fine widescreen art-pop opener ‘New Air’ has a heavy synth oscillation as its energy source, elevating one of Andrew PM Hunt’s more positive vocal deliveries above a polished airy groove, while ‘Smart Thing’ stands out by way of its electro-disco sheen. The most immediate singalong (albeit cathartic), ‘On The Water On The Way’, eschews the intricate arrangements of elsewhere to build a beautifully lyrical verse-chorus-verse over proggy light and shade.

This Liverpool band now comprise five members who each reside in separate cities, countries in some cases, and it is this sense of being apart, of long-distance love and languid aloneness that inspired the album. As such, it is a success, ‘Slowness’ effectively evokes the feeling of emotional distance and ennui. But whether ennui translates into exciting sound is another matter. Here it lends a detachment to the embryonic chamber music and Eighties art-pomp, a compressed template that nonetheless delivers spasms of satisfaction. Intriguing closer ‘Swam Out’ is a microcosm – a hesitating, introspective ballad that morphs into a spectacular sci-fi depth-charge of a coda. As bombastic a climax as it is, it’s a release on an album whose clear inventiveness is sometimes smothered by considered sophistication.
__

Buy: Outfit – Slowness

Live: Rough Trade East – June 17th