Ought‘s four-song EP Once More with Feeling doesn’t stray far from the sound of the Montreal-based band’s first full-length, More Than Any Other Day. There’s the art-punk noisy guitar, the festival-strength drumming, the funky bass, the cinematic keys and more provocative talk-singing about emotional subjects on these tracks, as well. What stands out most with Once More is how well the band works its dialogue between words and music.
Opening song “Pill” has a watery guitar similar to earlier tracks “Habit” and “Clarity!” Yet these beachy tones are used to soundtrack a narrative involving insanity, death and addiction. Notes ping-pong between feedback-driven guitar blasts and hallucinogenic lyrics on “New Calm Pt 3.” “New Calm Pt 2″ makes another unsettling pairing. As the music becomes more complex and structured, the lyrics unravel under the discontented management of a ringleader-type narrator who sings, “You gave me your calm, and I gave it away.” It’s theatrical and a bit gimmicky, but it works.
Once More does have moments of curious artifice. Some of the extended jams contain much tinkering, so the propulsive momentum can get a bit sludgy. But even in its fussier moments, Once More is clever where it could have just been a derivative take on its art-punk, no-wave, new-wave and post-punk influences and playful where it could have just been studied.