Music Reviews

Artist: Out Out
Title: Swan/Dive?
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Artoffact
“Wake up America, think for yourself; don’t leave the fact-checking to nobody else” is the main vocal refrain in opening track “Shut Up!”. On an album release four days before Donald Trump was voted President of the USA, it could hardly seem like a more timely warning.

This is an aggressive but still fundamentally quite poppy EBM release, laden with distortion on the guitars and vocals but not steering completely away from its industrial synthpop core. There are a few modern production touches sprinkled over a musical format that otherwise can still hark back to Cabaret Voltaire and co.

The music itself feels like it’s acting as a tonal underlay for the aggressive lyrical fury which is really the centrepiece that Out Out wants everyone to pay attention to. It’s often political but sometimes personal (and sometimes it’s hard to tell), it’s mostly either angry or frustrated. Mark Alan Miller is clearly a man who feels rage against the machine. It’s a heartfelt vocal performance, albeit not all that challenging, but the production leaves a lot of his vocal just a decibel or two lower in the mix than seems appropriate. There are moments, such as on “Like William Tell”, where the off-beat poetic delivery and repetition of short phrases is extremely reminiscent of Karl Hyde.

This isn’t a one-trick-pony album though by any means. There are a few notable exceptions on the tracklist though, and plenty of variation between tracks like a ‘proper’ pop album ought to have. “I Think You Know” leaves wide gaps between the vocals and ups the ante with the lo-fi and glitchy production. “Bleak And Hollow” is practically nu-metal, with moshing-friendly beats, while final track “The Overload” is a more extended, introverted, and atmospheric affair.

However there are also some weaker points, but not many. “S.Y.O. Version 2” has a half-hearted, slightly by-the-numbers feel to it, while “Falsified” sounds a little like an underbaked demo rather than a totally finished track.

It’s a little bit light in the ‘catchy hook’ department and some of the production is a touch muddy, but otherwise if you’re in the mood for nearly an hour of angry, attitude-laden industrial pop-beats, this is pretty satisfying.

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