Montreal Quebec post-punk band Ought was after something different when it went into the studio to record its latest album, Room Inside The World.
Compared to Ought’s first two records, which vocalist and guitarist Tim Darcy tells me were very much in the spirit of capturing Ought’s live energy, Ought hoped Room would build out the band’s sonic palette.
“We went into this album really wanting to make more of a studio album,” Darcy continues from a green room in Denver.
This shift is characterized by album tracks like “These Three Things,” adding a little synth pop and new-wave atmosphere to the band’s usual experimental, guitar-oriented sound.
“We knew we wanted to write a bit more slowly this time,” he says, “and bring in some new instrumentation: more viola, synths, drum machines, etc.”
Despite these changes, Ought shows its Lou Reed influence on tracks like “Disaffection.”
“Reed makes me feel empowered to stay on one chord and think about very human ways of expressing a feeling within that chord,” Darcy explains. “The Velvets made amateurism cool and vibrant and desirable in and of itself.”
And Bowie, another giant of music recently lost to this mortal plane, surfaces elsewhere on the album, particularly in some of the arch theatricality Darcy wrangles from his usually cool baritone.
“Bowie opened a lot of space for freakiness and vulnerability for me as a teen discovering his music,” Darcy explains.
Room slumps a bit on the back half with a series of down-tempo numbers that never quite gel, but overall Ought is as strong as ever, proving it’s one of indie rock’s most interesting young bands.
This show will be Ought’s first time in Eugene, though bassist Ben Stidworthy is originally from Portland. They’re here supporting Japanese Breakfast, featuring Michelle Zauner.
Now based in Philadelphia, Zauner graduated from South Eugene High School. She is touring behind last year’s critically acclaimed Soft Sounds from Another Planet.
Japanese Breakfast and Ought perform 7:30 pm Friday, Sept. 28, at WOW Hall; $16, all-ages.