Out Hud

Let Us Never Speak of It Again

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Factors like packaging and song titles often tell you a lot about a band and the music it makes. Out Hud are an exception to the rule. Looking at S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. or Let Us Never Speak of It Again, it'd be easy to be tricked into thinking that Out Hud might be a sloppy jam band or, given their song titles, somewhat akin to unkempt jokesters like Ween or the Dead Milkmen. They're nothing like that at all. The way they present themselves contradicts the tightness of their complex arrangements and the elasticity of their buoyant sound. Fans know this all too well; perhaps that's why they make every effort to steer expectations of the uninformed somewhere toward a more acceptable direction: "Think of the B-52's, digitized, playing "'Mesopotamia'" without Fred Schneider, at twice the speed and length." So think of something like that, rather than Rusted Root as a musical comedy troupe -- though comparisons to anything '80s-related is dangerous since the songs are never made to sound any older than the day they were recorded. Plenty has been learned from electro-disco, post-punk, and dub production techniques (disembodied howls, unexpected slides down echo chambers, processed sounds zipping in and out at all times), but the band leaves plenty of room for its own ideas. Let Us Never Speak of It Again is more electronic than the debut, but Out Hud fend off any criticism that they've become less human by incorporating vocals from their female members. The singsongy voices, sweet with confident attitude, only add another exhilarating layer. Otherwise, it's more of the same, which is a very good thing; no one else from the past or present makes this spiraling, winding, gadget-ridden, elaborate yet free-flowing form of music. Out Hud have, in a roundabout way, developed into the most original dance band on the planet. That this album's cover is as appealing to the eye as the cover of Royal Trux's Sweet Sixteen -- without a waste-filled toilet in sight! -- is almost as remarkable.

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