Electro-rock outfit from Canada unleash many outs -- and some stuck-in-your-heads.
Most of the press surrounding Shout Out Out Out Out's debut album has been framed by the mismatch between their (apparently) wild live shows and the tamer brand of electro-rock found on record. Seeing as I haven't seen them live, all I have to go on is this: the record, on its own merits, satisfies a thirst for synthesizers and vocordered vocals, but doesn't make those elements a necessary listening experience.
The six guys who make up Shout Out Out Out Out are generally out and about on the Edmonton music scene. Two of the members run the band's record label, Nrmls Wlcm, and another couple are in similarly dance-oriented rock duo Whitey Houston. These Canadian lads also reinforce this men-about-town image in the very tenor of their music –- its juicy, Presets-style sleaze –- and the affected vocals, which communicate (more so through the effects-laden delivery than in the words themselves) a definite party attitude. Also, the artwork on Not Saying/Just Saying is by 2006 Skelliconnection fave Chad VanGaalen (in semi-ironic Garbage Pail Kids style), reinforcing their independent outlook.
The best songs on Not Saying/Just Saying are the two that have been floating around the blogosphere for the past few months -– "Inspiration>Competition" and "Dude You Feel Electrical". Both prioritize riff over atmosphere, and the result is almost euphoric. "Inspiration" sacrifices some of the attitude (read: Justice rips) of earlier tracks for unashamed melody, even accenting it with a treble synth line, but over the course of the song, momentum builds inexorably to a massive climax. "Dude" likewise prioritizes the bass line and emphasizes the live percussion. The simple running scales are actually effective at reinforcing the magical-night feeling of the song.
Despite these highs, the band fails to connect in a number of places. Efforts at straighter electro, like "Your Shitty Record Won't Mix Itself", flag. On "Chicken Soup for the Fuck You", the group goes the way of more populist dance outfits like Basement Jaxx or Hot Chip, with handclaps and a pots-n-pans approach, but fails to match those groups' exuberant melody. So we know, despite pretensions, the songs are best in the party mode. Reading through the lyrics, you realize the band has more going on inside their heads than the songs' shiny surface lets on. It's a shame we never get to really discern some of these insights, because the vocal lines of "Self Loathing Rulz" and "Procrastinator's Fight Song" are so cut up that the words are unrecognizable.
Shout Out Out Out Out are still a young band –- they've only been together since 2004 –- and there's a way to go for the band to be a really compelling, rather than alternately compelling and sloppy, dance punk outfit. If their live shows really are so thrilling, it's enough to hope some of that can be parlayed into a long-player that sustains the highs.