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Out Hud - Let Us Never Speak of it Again

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Artist: Out Hud

Album: Let Us Never Speak of it Again

Label: Kranky

Review date: Mar. 14, 2005

Reviewing Out Hud’s S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. in 2003, Dusted proclaimed the group’s debut album a masterpiece of early 21st century music, coming on as though Out Hud’s music continually disavowed its allegiances at every turn. But while the sound of a band finding its feet is often thrilling – particularly a band with Out Hud’s voracious drive – when you can hear the potential for great pop music in the grain of an artist’s sound, it’s simultaneously thrilling (hope for the future etc) and frustrating – why not just go pop? The review's desire to celebrate Out Hud’s “assimilation of sheer noise and hedonistic grooves” led to a kind of dialectical re-inscription of the very boundaries that Out Hud’s music were, supposedly, tearing down. Similarly problematic were countless other reviewers who rested their discussion of Out Hud’s music on a facile “no lyrics/vocals but plenty to say” position, revealing an inability to grapple with the use of language as non-syntactical: “making sense” isn’t all that “language” does…

The first half of Let Us Never Speak of it Again, Out Hud’s new album, consists of risky pop music that doesn’t need to articulate its aesthetic engagements, surpassing the material acknowledgements of the quintet’s earlier recordings. The introduction of vocals to the group’s sound has facilitated this refinement and it’s the songs on the record that stand out. Lead single “One Life to Leave” sprays shrill guitars that burst like fireworks over an insistent disco groove, but Phyllis Forbes and Molly Schnick’s vocals, moving between disaffected chants and tape-spliced declamations, carry the tension and melodic nuances that push the song way beyond the group’s instrumentals. “It’s For You”’s wide open spaces of rhythm and clanking percussion build to a gleeful chorus in which Forbes and Schnick sigh pre-linguistic asides. Imagine, if you will, the Flying Lizards’ “Herstory” re-cast by On-U Sound and Konk, but there’s much more in here than ’80s redux. “How Long” starts like a great lost Detroit techno production but slips on a banana-skin, falling into slap bass and magnesium-burn keyboards.

Out Hud’s new-found pop smarts leave you hoping that they’ll drop the instrumentals and devote a whole album to songs. “The Song So Good They Named it Thrice,” “2005 A Face Odyssey” and “Dear Mr. Bush, There are 100 Words for Shit and Only 1 for Music. Fuck You, Out Hud” are similar to Out Hud’s earlier recordings, and contextually they lose out: not bad tracks, they simply lack bite, coasting past opportunities and relying on old forms. Out Hud at their best are all about exposing and resolving contradictions: or, more appropriately, not bothering to even acknowledge the existence of said contradictions. Songs like “It’s For You” and “One Life to Leave” show that Out Hud could care less about “resolving aesthetic incongruity”; they’re too busy finding that next sound, searching for the equation that’s non-reductive and completely open in design.

By Jon Dale

Other Reviews of Out Hud

S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D.

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