Crosby Bray

After 12 years of disappearance, the legendary Oklahoma City indie rock outfit The Uglysuit are back with a rerelease of a collection of songs that were recorded before their inception, reminding everybody of why and how they managed to cement their name as folk legends of the Oklahoma City indie music scene.

Recorded in 2005, a year before their original inception as The Uglysuit, this album -aptly named Before the Suit- is a collection of 7 deep cuts that display the band’s incredible musical cohesion, their pristine songwriting talent, and arrangements so simple, yet so lush and fulfilling that easily garners this release, as a bout of fresh air so that they can receive the appreciation they deserve. Starting with the sharp melancholy of the melodies and progressions of Kansas, this song is as good an introduction to the sound of The Uglysuit as any. With its prominent and intricate guitar melodies, I could hear at least 3 guitars intertwining and weaving a complex tapestry of sound underneath the heartfelt and relatable vocals, situated in the forefront of the mix, a mix that never sounds overbearing or overly saturated, given the number of instruments in it, which is an element that helps create a wall of sound that lends the music a shoegaze-y vibe that was so well done. 

Another Night Into the Day introduces yet another color for the outfit, largely instrumental, with minimal vocals composed of sparsely located lyric lines and a more melody-focused delivery with rich harmonies. This leaves space for the instrumental arrangement to heave and breathe and grow larger and more confident as the song progresses, and with the introduction of thickly distorted guitars, the whole piece achieves a monstrous size that’s maintained until its trick ending, which is intelligent and tastefully executed. The Other Side Of Town is the textbook suburban indie rock anthem, and with this song recorded and released right in the tail of Arcade Fire’s legendary Funeral, it would come as no surprise if there was a considerable influence from this album on The Uglysuits’s then-budding musical style. Serene, expansive, and warm, this longer cut is hypnotic and grand, populated with more intertwining and intricate guitar work, underneath this album’s most heartfelt and impactful vocal delivery, specially during the heavily emotional chorus which introduces layer after layer of emotive melodies and instrumental grandeur, which unquestionably peaks during a short and moving whistled solo. Dobbs can be referred to as this album’s most adventurous cut, with its modal introduction and its uncommon tonality that give it an unsettled and floating vibe, before suddenly landing into the album’s noisiest and most outlandishly brash segment. Densely melodic and distorted, the guitars carry over once the noise kicks in, now in a familiar minor tonality, and with another shift in rhythm and the reintroduction of vocals in the mix, this song is easily prog. 

The sound of another infamous Oklahoma City band can be traced as an influence on the dramatic ‘In This, The Sun’, and this band is The Flaming Lips, especially their earlier work, more melodic, noisy, and guitar-based. The sprawling arrangement and composition of this gargantuan cut makes it heavy and slightly unforgiving, yet emotive and sweet. This Side Of Town starts noisy and unforgiving, but with one of the album’s most catchy and engaging arrangements, and with dynamic beats and riffs that are fittingly placed, it all makes this cut a compelling and wholesome musical experience. The album closer, For Longer Days, starts with a passage in the unsettling 15/8 time signature, which sounds inherently unbalanced and unstable, and the lulling, descending composition further amplifies the unsettling nature of this piece. The chorus, returning to the solid 4/4 is a welcome change that gives this song the contrast it calls for. Another adventurous cut that proves that the band is one of remarkable talent, a band that doesn’t shy away from adventure.

Before the Suit is full to the brim with amazing music, varied, playful, sometimes sweet, sometimes sad, and at other times, alien and unsettling, but uniformly cohesive, engaging, and endlessly musical. In the return of one of Oklahoma City’s most sourly missed indie legends, The Uglysuit start by showing us exactly what made them achieve such a status.