Among the many electro-dance bands to emerge in the past decade, Edmonton’s Shout Out Out Out Out has stood apart with its delightfully strange set-up. Utilizing four bassists, two drummers, and all hands on deck to man tables of vintage synths, the group is more organic and boisterous than its laptop-operating peers. On Spanish Moss And Total Loss, the band emphasizes the organic elements and de-emphasizes the boisterousness, expanding its arsenal of instrumentation into a dense collage of sound while smoothing out much of the turbulence. The result is the group’s most interesting album, but also its least fun.
Luckily, Shout Out Out Out Out’s melody-focused songwriting saves the album from total disappointment. With an echoing piano riff buoyed by bouncing handclaps and an elastic synth line, opener “Now That I’ve Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better” shows the group can keep things catchy while upping the complexity. In fact, the track is downright pleasant—not an adjective easily applied to the helter-skelter bedlam of the group’s previous two albums.
The energy level gets dialed back from there, though what results is a group of stylistic mash-ups that are well-conceived but overly restrained in execution, so drenched in kaleidoscopic mellowness that they get dangerously close to new-age music. Before the club completely empties, however, “Never The Same Way Twice” picks up the momentum, layering a disco-pop beat with saxophone and wobbly Daft Punk-like synths. By the punchy groove of “Lessons In Disappearing” (think LCD Soundsystem with a Vocoder), Shout Out Out Out Out is as lively and exciting as it’s ever been. It’s clear the band can still craft an infectious dance-floor jam, and it’s hard to fault it for refining its sound. Still, while much of Spanish Moss And Total Loss is unexpected, it sacrifices too much in the name of surprise.