By Allyson Bills
Hailing from Liverpool, Outfit is a quintet comprised of Andrew P M Hunt (vocals/synthesizers), Nicholas Hunt (guitar), Thomas Gorton (guitar), Christopher Hutchinson (bass) and David Berger (drums/production), is releasing their sophomore effort. Slowness is a dramatic departure from their debut album, Performance, with a looser arrangement of pianos and synthesizers, thus creating an almost-psychedelic vibe throughout the whole album.
Slowness opens with the track, "New Air," which begins with splattered over synthesizer pianos where Hunt sings of having the opportunity for a second chance with an ex. "New Air" has a very Keane and The Silent Film feel in terms of vocals and clean production. The anticipation of a second chance with love in "New Air" is demonstrated in the build-up of Berger's drums near the end of the song, which sets up the fresh start perfectly with the piano at the end.
The title track, “Slowness,” has an upbeat start with Hutchinson’s bass as the focal point throughout out the song over background chatter. It’s a very catchy song, one that gets stuck in my head time and time again. In “Slowness,” Hunt tells the listener to take the new romance slow: “Difficult to see at first glance // The depth of a distance // Width of a romance.” “Smart Thing” is a dance track that’s very reminiscent of Two Door Cinema Club, but has a looser vibe than Outfit’s tracks from Performance. This is another catchy tune off Slowness, with the rhythm section taking stage again, that makes the listener want to do the “smart thing.” Hunt even gives the listener an important message that anyone can relate to in “Smart Thing:” “The one lesson learned is the one you ignore.”
“Boy” begins the slower section Slowness, a piano and synthesizer-heavy track with a saxophone at the end, which starts to explore gender identity. “Happy Birthday” is one of the darker tracks off Slowness with haunting pianos and synthesizers creating a circular sound. Usually birthdays are a positive event in one’s life, but not in Hunt’s life on this song, who sings about wanting to be noticed from his loved one, and reminiscing of how things used to be with “Isn’t just a memory so perfect // You never knew it was real.” “Wind or Vertigo” is an instrumental song that is spacey with Hunt’s and Gorton’s guitar work taking center stage that actually sounds like the wind.
Gender identity is further explored in “Genderless” with thumping synthesizers, and perhaps the most electronic tracks off Slowness, which happens so fast that the listener has little time to explore his/her identity because the song ends with a sharp bang (unlike other songs off this album). “Framed” is the most unique track off the album, which, unlike other tracks, begins with the drums. In “Framed,” Hunt looks at life through the eyes of someone else life, particularly his ex in the song: “No strings, no ties, but a history in disguise,” in that things aren’t what they seem.
"On the Water On The Way" is my favorite track off Slowness because I love how it's upbeat, but not too dance-like. The synthesizers are at a perfect pace with the drums that creates a vibe that you are floating on the water. "Cold Light Home" creates the atmosphere of trying to find your way ("A child lost to the light in the night") with train-like sounds over a trance beat. The final track off Slowness, “Swam Out” is the slowest-sounding song off the album with buzzing synthesizers. Personally, I’m not a fan of slow songs to end albums, however “Swam Out” has the perfect tempo with the pianos in order keep the listener engaged in order to hear Hunt’s yearn for his long-lost love: “I need you more than I ever have // I’ll wait my whole life to get it.”
Slowness proves there is no “sophomore slump” for Outfit. They have managed to change their sound just enough without alienating fans from their first album, but still keeping their dance roots. Outfit has come into their own with Slowness as they are suited with a more looser approach to song-writing and instrument ship. Whereas, Performance was much tighter, and didn’t really set them apart from their contemporaries. Slowness is doing this job well.