Outfit: Performance (Double Denim) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Double Denim

Aug 13, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It takes a certain kind of slick discipline to put something out that is as darkly melancholy as it is excitingly danceable. Outfit, a Liverpudlian quintet that debuted in 2011 with a handful of groovy singles, have done exactly that. Performance, the band’s first LP, starts off clicking and sparse but quickly fills in the void with steady hums and inverted hooks that carry the songs into deep caverns of pop complexity.

There’s a slight similarity to Yeasayer but not without the inspiration of David Byrne’s gospel bravado and Joy Division’s haunting introspection. Self-deprecating choruses are delivered through ghostly effects and thin beats, with a careful backdrop of grim guitars and a subtle wash of ethereal synths. The title track builds on organic rhythms and adds layers of tense instrumentation in a gorgeous repetition of “forward/now everything echoes the same way.” It’s reminiscent of Joy Division’s “Atmosphere” but still original and creepy in its defiance. “Elephant Days” takes a more standard pop structure but with the same careful, subdued punchiness that permeates the rest of the record. The last two songs are perhaps the best“The Great Outdoors” sounds like a journey for self-reflection, with the beat dripping carefully in a chamber of spacey pop, and it takes a few surprising turns throughout its course. The album’s closer, “Two Islands,” drifts off into lonely proclamations of self-reassurance, backed by swelling fuzz and a helplessly addictive groove.

There’s always something impressive about taking some very basic ideas and themes and making them fresh. Performance captures the best elements of Outfit’s dark New Wave influences and molds them into a fantastically consistent album. The band sticks to some pretty standard instrumentation and uses effects and modulations sparingly enough to sound natural but undeniably electric. The synthesizers don’t oversoak the album with glittery noise but instead pop in and out of verses like a lighthouse beacon. Pieces of songs feel like they fight against their own purpose, as poppy dance tunes are littered with dissonant guitars and volume-pedal motions working with completely separate tempos. The experience is one that demands dancing, whether it is on a crowded dance floor, or a significantly less populated apartment at 3 a.m. Perfect, either way. (www.everynightidressupasyou.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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