Outfit – Slowness
Their 2013 debut Performance didn't spark throughout, but its clutch of on-the-money highlights announced Outfit as an act keen – and equipped – to toy with the staid conventions of pop. Slowness is more accomplished by some distance, and a surer, fuller demonstration of their developing songcraft.
Deftly sequenced, from opener New Air's electro stutter to a clutch of mini symphonies (Smart Thing, Boy) via the mid-set atmospherics of Wind or Vertigo, they confirm their headway with the closing Swam Out, whose epic, ascending coda is a (not so) distant cousin of The Blue Nile's Saturday Night. Indeed, the Glasgow trio's influence is evident throughout, with Slowness's deceptively full soundboard built on a trim foundation of delicate keys and crisp percussion.
Outfit reference an outlying sector of mid-80s alt-pop, a glossy side road that saw its prime exponents forsake the wiry, nervy guitars of post-punk in favour of synths, beats and – crucially – space. So much space here: Andrew Hunt's voice lives and breathes within it. It's a careworn but lovely thing, with shades, at times, of Talk Talk's Mark Hollis. This is an album for the small hours, a record you'll turn to as the bottle empties, the ashtray fills and the light of dawn creeps through the blinds. Its scale is modest but its daring is limitless.