Outbound were the first band to ever contact me in regards to a review, so I guess this is relatively long overdue. The band hail from Massachusetts, and the play a passionate mix of pop-punk and rock, with a few indie elements thrown in for good measure, and they generally play it pretty damn well. I liked their 2013 debut EP In My Defense, the subject of that initial contact, and I like its follow-up Suite 10, even more. Although it doesn’t have a fixed release date the EP can be streamed here (first six tracks), and should be available digitally sometime soon.
In almost every regard Suite 10 is an improvement on Outbound’s debut, and the band don’t really put a foot wrong here; it’s a real progression from In My Defense. The most notable change would be that production-wise Suite 10 is greatly upgraded, and it makes it much more accessible as a listener; guitars sound crisp, whilst Rob Barrett‘s drumming can really be appreciated, especially on final track Riot Song, which features a lot of nice touches. There are five tracks which precede the closer, and the first of them is Barter with the Gypsy, which hits hard once it kicks in, immediately spirited, and despite a few clumsy transitions it’s an instant highlight, bouncing and boisterous. As is the case on this track and throughout the EP vocalist Dylan Mcphee really impresses, ranging from melodic to aggressive, dwelling more on the former, and there’s a unique tone to his voice which makes him a more appealing vocalist – think early Taking Back Sunday or Brand New perhaps, with Mixtape coming to mind. Like this song is lyrically, the EP spends most of its time as an open letter of sorts, often directly addressing someone and doing so with a scathing rhetoric. Second track Birdlaw is perhaps the most direct, wasting no time as it dives straight in with the line ‘I watched you sink and swim though hell and highwater’ amidst churning instrumentation, relenting to calmer seas as melodic clean guitars weave. Suite 10, like on this track, is littered with hooks and memorable lines aplenty, and at all times the EP is bolstered by some solid instrumentation, often more experimental than the genre perhaps allows itself to be. Ghost for example begins with a mellow, technical opening thirty seconds before bursting into great piercing guitars and crashing drums, dropping off to the opening style again as Mcphee sings ‘Who was I, thinking I could change water to wine, whores into housewives?’ This fourth track was a personal favorite, with a huge, towering chorus which shows slightly more aggression before another catchy, distinct verse and a brilliant, roaring climax. It’s followed by shortest track Interlude which serves as little more than its namesake, drifting initially and then perking up partway through. As expected it’s the most forgettable track, not bringing too much, but it serves to highlight just how good closer Riot Song is, emphatic in comparison, churning along as the EP’s catchiest track, packed with scaling highs and swirling instrumentation, ending Suite 10 brilliantly.
Outbound could very well go far if Suite 10 is any indication, building on their debut and sounding incredibly confident in the process, as it should considering how well the songs are written and performed – charged and charismatic. The foundation the Fitchburg five-piece have built for themselves across their last two releases is a promising platform to expand upon, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing more.
Rating – 8/10