Among the great contemporary music scene, there is Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside: a group of Portlandites who lend credence to the belief that there’s something in the water over there. On the heels of their great debut (oh, and what a great music video they produced, that I so fell in love with!) comes the follow-up, Untamed Beast, and boy, is it such. All 11 tracks keep the steam engine rolling. They continue toward uncharted territory, excavating the forgotten sound outside.
Typically, second outings are divisive. They either do not live up to an audience’s expectations or they go too far and make you wonder what it was you heard the first time. I prefer something I haven’t heard before. I want to know that my following, my relationship with a band, is worth the time of investment.
Untamed Beast is currently streaming over at A.V. Club. This is something I have been anticipating for a while and was teased about with the first single release. They’ve started to listen to some of their followers, like Jack White – certain songs, like Addicted, sound influenced by him, but they stand on their own. Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside have developed an aesthetic that in many ways one-ups White’s.
Something significant about Sallie Ford’s sound is how it has lo-fi quality without lo-fi talent. Layering elevates replicant scans. Sallie Ford’s voice always seems in control but on the edge of becoming something else.
The songwriting is a mix of American music that does not seem disingenuous or part of a trend. Refreshing vulgarity spews from Sallie’s lips – nothing intrusive, but lovely in the dance. The music turns a little punk, a little trashy, the roots of rock emerge and, before they become overt references, blend into the sound outside. Sallie Ford et al are a reminder of how vulgarity can be fun.
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside have a strange way of arranging songs that maintain a pop sensibility. The sound they have, the sound that is outside, is their own. In other words, I dig it. The wait has not been in vain, and I look forward to more.