OUTFIT – PERFORMANCE

Words: Joshua Nevett
July 11, 2013

For most, selecting an outfit that fits is a decisive affair, dictated by predetermined specifications. Wirral five-piece OUTFIT, it seems, have been less than decisive in determining their specifications during the preceding three years since their formation in 2011, cobbling together an edifice of interim genres like a jukebox cosmetic surgeon with a vague penchant […]


For most, selecting an outfit that fits is a decisive affair, dictated by predetermined specifications. Wirral five-piece OUTFIT, it seems, have been less than decisive in determining their specifications during the preceding three years since their formation in 2011, cobbling together an edifice of interim genres like a jukebox cosmetic surgeon with a vague penchant for 80s synthesisers. On debut single, Two Islands, they tried on a sort-of-Foals derived Afro-romp for size, whilst 2012’s Another Nights Dreams Reach Earth Again EP was all shuffling melodies and dusty guitar climes underpinned by an erring towards more modernistic R & B elements; strangely enough, gentle nods towards Toro Y Moi and The Weeknd were both called to mind.

On full-length follow up, Performance, Outfit’s more frequent odes to the exponents of the mid-80s synth-pop zeitgeist remains intact – skip straight to the refrained, melancholic croons of album title track Performance for ample evidence – however, there’s a deep-rooted yearning here for far more than just rehashing well-worn motifs. Rest-assured, Performance (a title that evokes themes borne out of the theatrical) is no knee-jerk diversion from the hype that bore them, it’s a welcome expansion of that collective doom factor – and it’s given them fresh depth.

Opener Big Nothing is a promising enough offering – “can anybody hear us” calls lead vocalist and guitarist Andy Hunt with the subtle optimism of a Third World peasant pleading for salvation – but it’s outshone by a sour aftertaste of barefaced sadness that sets a poignant tone for the rest of the record. There’s more brazen buoyancy, though, for lead single I Want What’s Best – a slow burning, hypnotic dead ringer for the oeuvre of Hot Chip – which is an undoubted album standout. The oddball romanticism of House On Fire is also indicative of a fist-pump-to-the-air moment, trashing along an angular synth-line like a sexually deprived Spanish fighting bull, but the ominous overtones of dread still prevail on Spraypaint and Elephant Days which deliver in Dutch Uncles-y/Depeche Mode-y aloofness through a narcotic haze.

Outfit-Liverpool-band-Performance

The noir pop additions via Roxy Music don’t go unnoticed either: Phone Ghost creeps along all spooky and doleful for almost four minutes, though, The Great Outdoors is reminiscent of The Horrors; stabby brooding keys, but married with a delirious falsetto Damon Albarn would be proud of. Meanwhile, Two Islands is every bit as irresistible as when we first heard it, bursting with a swoony chorus that would even have Alan Sugar in paroxysms. As for the outfit selection, this time around, the wardrobe malfunctions have been well and truly averted and ‘Performance’ is the affecting debut 2013 was waiting for.


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