Let Us Never Speak of it Again
oth buried in a cave of dub and littered with a fine dust of noise, Out Hud’s debut, S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D., originally endured both being dwarfed by endlessly name-dropped influences and a lumping into the newly minted disco-punk genre by association (sharing various members of !!! and LCD Soundsystem). If disco-punk has had its last breath, this not only paved the way for LCD Soundsystem to inhabit (pastiche) every hipster moment they once lovingly derided—it’s let Out Hud become a house-pop band. Let me be the first to welcome the death of disco-punk if it gives us LCD Soundsystem and, more importantly, Let Us Never Speak of it Again.
Out Hud’s transformation has also, thankfully, undercut any descriptions of the band as post-rock. Studio fuckery aside, the band’s earlier slower tempos and “cinematic” builds have been dropped like a bad habit (chin-stroking, in this case). This is a band sparing no moment, whose intensity can only be described in the context of dance. Found after the wails of a down-pitched drone on the prelude, the first drum of “It’s For You” literally screams the song, and the rest of the album, into an energetic existence. Unfolding on top of a tugging bassline, Phyllis Forbes and Molly Schnick sound like they’re skipping as they sing—both jubilant and out-of-breath. “It’s For You” begins Let Us Never Speak of it Again with Out Hud pushing out of any sort of stylistic cul-de-sac.
Out Hud’s shift to house-pop may not be the group ‘coming into its own,’ but it does throw aside the burden of influences that S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. had attached to it. Still using dubbed cellos, guitars, echo chambers, and processed fuzz, the group’s tight arrangements and sense of pacing are spotlighted throughout Let Us Never Speak of it Again. The arrangements drive each of the songs forward, not even letting the sprinkling interlude of “A Trillion Watts” sound aimless, despite the temptation otherwise. As awful as it sounds on paper, even the use of a minute-long pastoral introduction on “How Long” creates a build of anticipation that sounds in no way masturbatory. Its opening airy flute and cello spiral perfectly into the song’s later propulsive bass-driven verses and the power-chord synths of the chorus. Within these snaking compositions, as well as songs like “One Life to Leave” and “The Stoked American,” the layered mix allows each dubbed voice and instrument to breathe, build, interlock, and dissipate with maximum impact.
And in this mixture, the slyly shrieked vocals of Phyllis Forbes and Molly Schnick also carry the power of (pop) understatement. Tossing out lines like “I was sleeping when the phone just rang / (hello?) / And someone breathing was up to something,” an argument could be made that the group says more through grooves than words, which is grounded in both S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. and Let Us Never Speak of it Again’s cringe-inducing song titles. But that would be a waste of time. I might’ve missed the joke, but with the group’s lyrics, song titles and even album art, Out Hud is laughing all the way and I’d rather not stop them.
With all of unabashed praise I have for this album, it’s strangely appropriate that the weakest song, the plodding and almost lifeless “2005: A Face Odyssey,” sounds like the song closest to the group’s earlier work. Fortunately, Out Hud appears to have a hard time looking back.
Reviewed by: Nate De Young
Reviewed on: 2005-03-30