There are times when it’s easy to despair of indie or alt-rock – call it what you will. Then an album such as Sun Coming Down arrives, and the possibilities open to four people with guitars, bass and drums become apparent again. It’s not as if Ought, three Americans and an Australian based in Montreal, are terribly original; you can hear the staples of alternative music – Wire, Mission of Burma, the Fall – running through every note of their second album. But it’s performed with a kind of relaxed intensity that’s utterly engrossing. The songs ebb and flow, build and release, singer Tim Darcy expressing both anxiety and acceptance, in a Mark E Smithesque drawl. “I’m no longer afraid to dance tonight / Because that is all that I have left,” he sings on the album’s near-eight-minute centrepiece, Beautiful Blue Sky, in a lyric that seems to be the crux of the album’s worldview, that beauty can be found in fear.
Ought: Sun Coming Down review – intense, engrossing alt-rock
Michael Hann is a freelance writer, and former music editor of the Guardian