Outfit – 'Performance' album review

A solid synth-pop debut which shows why these Liverpudlians deserve the hype

0

Comments

Add +

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5


Look out, Hot Chip: a band from Liverpool are dangerously close to usurping your claim as the kings of UK synth-pop. Outfit burst out of the Liverpudlian music scene in 2011 and moved down to London, already trailing hype. Nearly two years later, they've made a smart, soulful and dancefloor-ready debut album which justifies most of the praise that's been heaped on them.

In fact, 'Performance' is easily good enough to vindicate a risky decision: the exclusion from its track list of any songs from last year's sublime 'Another Night's Dreams Reach Earth Again' EP. Nevertheless, if you've heard that release's lead track, 'Everything All The Time', you'll know roughly what to expect on 'Performance': top-quality electronic pop which, like all the best dance music, balances deep funk with deeper emotion. There's plenty here to keep a crowd moving, including 'I Want What's Best', 'House on Fire' and the itchy 'Thank God I Was Dreaming'.

Three quirky, groovy, four-to-the-floor bangers on one album is a good strike rate, but there's more to 'Performance' than that. Two songs provide a sparser, slower interval halfway through the album: 'Performance', with its offbeat percussion, eerie vocal harmonies and strangled synth lines wouldn't sound out of place on a mid-’80s Depeche Mode album, while 'Spraypaint' has a slow funk kick and a serene synth outro which recalls OMD or even China Crisis. 'The Great Outdoors' takes even more daring steps into the untrendy deep end of synth-pop: it's as big as you'd expect from the title, with the kind of big bassy synth hits and heart-stopping chord changes that Simple Minds used to excel at. The lyrical chicanes on 'Nothing Big' are a little bit Pet Shop Boys, and 'Elephant Days' has some trembling psychedelic guitar on it, as well as a motorik middle section which sounds like it'd be phenomenal live.

'Performance' has a lot going on, then, and it's executed marvellously. This is a carefully calibrated and impeccably informed blend of funky electro, straight dance music and more experimental moments – the roaring, whirring synths, for example, which hover over closing track 'Two Islands'. There's only the odd passage when Outfit get really, transcendentally brilliant, but they've made as solid an album of forward-thinking pop as you'll hear this year. If they can keep this up, then it's only a matter of time before they're one of the country's most important bands.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

Watch Outfit's ‘I Want What's Best’ video

See Outfit live in London

Lambchop

  • Critics choice

Laconic, cap-sporting Kurt Wagner and his magnificent abstract/orchestral country-pop outfit return for more gently lachrymose, sweetly philosophical and frequently plain funny fare, centred on Wagner's cracked and whispery, tender croon. Lambchop shows always promise an hour or so of sheer loveliness, but here they're playing their 'Nixon' album all the way through, making this a particularly special one.

  1. Barbican Hall Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8BS
  2. Fri Jan 30
Buy tickets
See all Outfit gigs


Users say

0 comments

See Outfit live in London

Lambchop

  • Critics choice

Laconic, cap-sporting Kurt Wagner and his magnificent abstract/orchestral country-pop outfit return for more gently lachrymose, sweetly philosophical

  1. Barbican Hall Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8BS
  2. Fri Jan 30
Buy tickets

Listen to 'Performance' on Spotify

Read more music features

The best independent music venues in London

For Independent Venue Week, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite gig venues

Interview: Gerard Way

The My Chemical Romance singer talks Britpop, Bowie and board games

Ten acts you need to know about in 2015

You’ll be hearing great things from these up-and-coming bands, singer-songwriters, producers and artists throughout this year

The Time Out music quiz 2014

Test your knowledge of the year’s musical highlights, from Kanye and Kim to Kiesza and Kate Bush

The 50 best songs of 2014

Stick this playlist on repeat – it’s the very best new music of the last 12 months

See all Time Out music features