Album review: The Uglysuit – Before The Suit

As they reform for the first time in 12 years, The Uglysuit share a collection of tracks from the start of their journey

As they reform for the first time in 12 years, The Uglysuit share a collection of tracks from the start of their journey

Having disbanded 12 years ago, Oklahoma City sextet The Uglysuit are back, and have marked the occasion by releasing an album of tracks from their early, early days, before the outfit were even fully formed, aptly titled Before The Suit. The release does a really great job of reiterating the timeless nature of their melodic indie rock sound, highlighting that the tracks hold up as well as they ever have under a modern lens. Fads often come and go, but there is always a place for earnest, heart-on-sleeve guitar rock, and this album has plenty of that on display.

The release opens with ‘Kansas’, a rousing track that builds throughout, displaying a kind of laid-back folk-pop style while always implying that things could implode at a moments notice. True to form, the track gives way to pure, cathartic emotion, with vocalist Israel Hindman losing himself in a slew of longing, impassioned groans that almost feel Thom Yorke-esque.

This theme of the light gradually giving way to something more heavy and distorted is also prevalent on ‘Another Night Into The Day’, a track that takes its time to build but reaches another similarly satisfying climax.

There are some real moments of beauty and hopefulness on ‘The Other Side of Town’, with pianos and endearing melodies making for an atmosphere that has this really alluring, thoughtful quality throughout, permeated by the track’s thoughtful lyrics and charm. The track builds and builds throughout while never losing its laid-back sense of affability and guile, with not even its whammy bar guitar solo managing to cut through its calm air.

If ‘The Other Side of Town’ represents the calm however, then ‘Dobbs definitely represents the storm, wasting no time giving way to seas of guitar riffs and boasting this emphatic sense of drive. The track is a fine showcase of just how colossal and all-encompassing The Uglysuit and their sound can feel.

‘In This, The Sun’ is something of the epic of this collection of tracks, clocking in at almost seven minutes long and packed full of a range of different emotions and vibes. The track feels like it would feel right at home on an album like The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (an album that came out a year after this track was recorded), ambitious in its scope, more than happy to experiment with structure and subvert expectations, but always packing this accessible, melodic edge.

Speaking of tracks ambitious in their sense of scope and scale, ‘This Side Down’ as an other epic that serves as the emotional climax of the album. This is a track that has everything, and really encompasses the entire The Uglysuit experience into one. There are infectious, sing-a-long melodies, a rising sense of atmosphere, a rousing, rewarding crescendo, and the innate sense of charm and appeal that has dominated this record throughout. The Uglysuit have been uncompromising with their vision and unique writing and structures throughout, but there is always a hook or a clever melody throughout these tracks that anchors everything together to keep things feeling engaging and fun. As ‘This Side of Town’ builds and the guitars begin whirring and taking over, its hard not to think of this track as the apex of the album as a whole.

Things close out with ‘For Longer Days’, a more brooding and considered release that slows the pace down after the emphatic impact of its predecessor. The track follows their patented formula of building throughout to some great, highs towards the end, but it is the thoughtful intricacies of the riffs and the more considered approach that stands out here.

All in all, Before The Suit is an album that serves as a reminder of the enduring charm and timeless nature of great rock music. There are no bells and whistles here, no over the top effects or extensive production, but the album grabs you with its honesty, its earnesty and the very real, authentic charm that comes with it. The appeal of The Uglysuit and this album comes with the guile of it, the creativity and musicianship to craft these tracks that mutate and explode into life, and to do so so early into their journey is a testament to their talents.