Outtacontroller’s debut full length Don’t Play Dumb is heavy on the distortion yet the hooks still shine through nice and vibrantly. They’ve got Johnny Ramone’s buzzsaw guitar approach bred effectively with the stiff lip of The Buzzcocks, yet it still fits right in line with modern renditions like White Wires (particularly in the vocals, I’ll be damned if the title track couldn’t just as easily be a White Wires lost cut). Through all the aforementioned influences, Outtacontroller aren’t derivative enough to be labeled “blank-worship”, yet they do effectively hold their own in the modern power pop scene.
Tracks like “Purple Teeth” and “Gotta Deal With Neil” run with the wall of sound idea best used by The Spits, but “Put It On High”, “Hydromorphone Love” and record closer “40 Days” show the band’s ability to infuse their pop sensibilities with some slow burners. While I’m sure we all love the genre’s signature toe-tapping consistency, a band’s ability to slow things down without losing their charm is key. Outtacontroller understand this.
The band explore some near-Misfits lyrical content at times (“Graveyard Kid”, “Pointed At You”), but I get the feeling that they don’t play into it as much or believe it to the point that the Misfits do. These may sound like love songs, but a fair amount of them are anything but.
I’ve heard rumours of the Halifax, Nova Scotia punk scene being one of the best in Canada, but I haven’t seen a band prove the rumours true as well as Outtacontroller have with Don’t Play Dumb. The songs are simple enough to enjoy yet just sweet enough to stick in your head.