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Let Us Never Speak of It Again

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Album Review

Factors like packaging and song titles often tell you a lot about a band and the music it makes. Out Hud are an exception to the rule. Looking at S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. or Let Us Never Speak of It Again, it'd be easy to be tricked into thinking that Out Hud might be a sloppy jam band or, given their song titles, somewhat akin to unkempt jokesters like Ween or the Dead Milkmen. They're nothing like that at all. The way they present themselves contradicts the tightness of their complex arrangements and the elasticity of their buoyant sound. Fans know this all too well; perhaps that's why they make every effort to steer expectations of the uninformed somewhere toward a more acceptable direction: "Think of the B-52's, digitized, playing "'Mesopotamia'" without Fred Schneider, at twice the speed and length." So think of something like that, rather than Rusted Root as a musical comedy troupe — though comparisons to anything '80s-related is dangerous since the songs are never made to sound any older than the day they were recorded. Plenty has been learned from electro-disco, post-punk, and dub production techniques (disembodied howls, unexpected slides down echo chambers, processed sounds zipping in and out at all times), but the band leaves plenty of room for its own ideas. Let Us Never Speak of It Again is more electronic than the debut, but Out Hud fend off any criticism that they've become less human by incorporating vocals from their female members. The singsongy voices, sweet with confident attitude, only add another exhilarating layer. Otherwise, it's more of the same, which is a very good thing; no one else from the past or present makes this spiraling, winding, gadget-ridden, elaborate yet free-flowing form of music. Out Hud have, in a roundabout way, developed into the most original dance band on the planet. That this album's cover is as appealing to the eye as the cover of Royal Trux's Sweet Sixteen — without a waste-filled toilet in sight! — is almost as remarkable.

Customer Reviews

Brilliant when it's not trying to be

Really, just for making the track "How Long", you could ignore the rest of what I have to say and that track alone would be worth your troubles. Out Hud combines a fascinating set of sensibilities and manages to make it work. Lots of "real instrument" bands have tried to meddle with the digital studio to varying degrees of moving away from something that can be reproduced live. A lot of times the music that sounds best from these efforts is the music that depends on the gimmicks the least. All of the songs on this album are creative and combine a unique pallet of instruments -- probably because they are fairly free from the rigid genre requirements most electronic producers are limited too. When the combination of "live" and digital works, as on "How Long" and "2005: A Face Odyssey" (well up to that last minute anyway), you get the feeling that this might be what Four Tet would sound like if he had a live band instead of a computer to conduct. Sometimes the probably accidental choice of a keyboard preset that stands out as either too much of a commercial trance preset or worst, just a straight up tired sounding preset... but then if you hadn't sat around listening to dance music vinyl for the last 12 years, you might not notice or care. Creative, interesting, funky. Too weird to be on the OC -- which may be a good thing for some fans -- and too funky to be annoying like so many of their brethren. Kranky as a label puts out some really high quality music, and it should serve as a seal of approval.

out hud go a step further

Out Hud have managed to pull off a trick here: They've taken what they learned with their brilliant debut full-length S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. in terms of creating dark, dubby, dense compositions layered with shimmering beats and guitars, whose vibrant immediacy already seemed to defy logic, and added something close to pop vocals. Well, not that close. The girls of Out Hud manage to add yet another layer to their sound with their wispy, yet assured delivery, giving a playful edge to half the tracks on the album. The other half, meanwhile, are more or less the same kind of fare as from their debut, which is by no means a bad thing. In mixing up their long, organic jams with catchy vocal tracks (see "It's For You", "One Life to Leave", "Old Nude", "How Long", and "The Stoked American"), Out Hud has provided a jumping-off point for those indie among us who, upon hearing the word "instrumental", painfully recall being dragged to a Tortoise show by their goateed music school friend (nothing against Tortoise, by the way). Their music is a deep sea of sound, but they've thrown a life preserver for anyone a little too apprehensive to dive right in. Buy it, absorb it, love it, then get S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. and do the same.

Art is to Dance as Out Hud is to Vitality

I was going to open this with “What ever happened to Out Hud?”—but wait, has it really only been two years since we got this album? Well, it feels like 9, because Let Us Never Speak of It Again is the best dance-pop album of all time. I stumbled blindly into Out Hud back in 2003, opening for Le Tigre when Le Tigre was still cool, and their performance of “How Long”—still the best track on the album—was the highlight of the whole night. In short, a vital artery of this modern world.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Since their 1996 formation in the Bay Area of California, Out Hud has played a complex but danceable brand of indie rock with debts owed to disco, dub, and post-punk. Prior to their 2002 debut album for Kranky, the group released a number of vinyl-only singles and EPs (for Red Alert, Dead Turtle, GSL, and 5 Rue Christine), built a small word-of-mouth following through their live shows — which often caused otherwise sessile indie rockers to dance — and relocated to New York. The group...
Full Bio
Let Us Never Speak of It Again, Out Hud
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