20 for ’14: Ought – Habit

Part 7 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of last year

I read a review somewhere which said that the problem with More than Any Other Day is that each song is beholden to a particular influence and that the record plays out like: this is our Fall song, this is our Sonic Youth songs etc. I disagree with that myself but it’s hard not to think when listening to Habit ‘this is our Talking Heads song.’ Vocalist Tim Beeler does his best David Byrne impression throughout, with the little ‘hah‘ exhalations of breath seeming like a well studied tic and the stretching-for-the-notes in the chorus sounding not unlike the brilliant, yearning performance of Byrne’s from This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody). But, be that as it may, Beeler still does it with enough conviction to get away from it. Even if you were cruel enough to think of his Byrne aping as being a small step up from him singing along with Remain in Light into his bathroom mirror you’d have to admit it would be the kind of vein bulging, heart on sleeve private karaoke it’s hard not to respect. And then there’s the subject matter – he nails the reliance on some kind of crutch for enjoyment, be it drugs or whatever, with lazer like precision. The band do their part – the guitars scratch like an addict in withdrawal, and the keys drift light and drowsy in the background, but the spotlight is all Beeler’s. Act like you feel it but it doesn’t heal you and it doesn’t make you smile. Is there something you were trying to express? It’s not that you need it. It’s that you need it. To me Ought for the minute are a little like a footballing wunderkind showing flashes of brilliance that make you dare to wonder if there’s something truly special emerging. Habit is one of those special moments where they take a team apart single handedly and look like the finished article already. It’s got the hooks and the spine-tingling emotional weight to maybe find a few kids doing Tim Beeler impressions in their bathroom mirrors before long.