At this point in popular music’s history, post-punk as a genre has become almost entirely saturated. The go-to genre for musicians looking to temper their aggression with art-school aesthetics, refining punk’s young, fast and dumb ethos into something at once more cerebral and poignant, post-punk feels weightier and less fleeting at the cost of immediacy. Often laden with literary references and jagged rhythms that for the listener to encounter the music on a less visceral level, it’s easy to dismiss a new post-punk band as just another outfit dancing to Cap’n Jazz in the room where women come and go speaking of Michelangelo.
Montreal’s Ought, new signees to the always-impeccable Constellation Records, delight in watching you squirm as your convictions about the genre are stripped away. In just under six minutes, the opening track to their debut full-length, “Pleasant Heart,” limps and lurches straight to your brain stem, slashing at that little node in your skull that controls your involuntary responses. Vocalist Tim Beeler sing-speaks atop the twisted clockwork rhythms of the relentless rhythm section and the whole quartet shifts in unison: uncanny melodies whistle in your ears and you think you can see greater forces at play out of the corners of your eyes. There’s nothing there but shadows and the band continues to close in on you.
What sets Ought apart from their post-everything/nothing peers is how they wield savvy pop know-how with disarming ease. You need to know the rules from within to be able to smash them so completely and Ought certainly burn the brightest when they’re systematically flaying pop conventions, one flawless hook at a time, such as on the semi title track, “Today More Than Any Other Day.” “Today, on more than any other day, I am excited to go grocery shopping,” Beeler states as the music grows in confidence, speed and intensity behind him and you can’t help but rise from your chair in encouragement and also set yourself a to-do list of mundane shit you’ve been putting off. Is this what it’s like to grow up?
By Sebastian Buzzalino