Dublin’s Bouts have returned after a five year hiatus with their new album Flow, and it’s a welcome breath of fresh, clean-cut indie air. Released via Wonkey Karousel Records on 25th January, the record is a seamless blend of optimism and hope, with elements of realism and acceptance – most likely influenced by some of the member’s relocation’s from Ireland to Amsterdam and London since their formation in 2011.
Here at Gigslutz, we’re excited to share the new album with you ahead its official release date tomorrow. Band members Barry and Niall have also provided a track-by-track review of the record, which you can stream below!
1. ‘Stop Pushing’
Barry: This song has a subtly unorthodox structure and is definitely a case of us holding back more as a group. I love the chiming guitars and am proud of how we managed to reach outside our normal “default setting” to craft a more expansive sound. It came together gradually over the course of sessions in 2017. And the bass-led bridge was actually written when our bassist was absent!
Niall: It started out as a very typical Bouts blow out track, fuzzy bass, twice as fast, before we starting honing it, firstly on a weekend in Connemara, and realised it was much nicer as a holding bass pattern, more Fleetwood Mac than The Thermals. Colin’s synth is given a huge amount of room without taking away from the guitar interplay. The bridge for this song took a long time. I think Dan came up with the bass on this part, which was a first. It reminds me of the American band The Sea and Cake and we felt was the perfect scene setter for the album.
2. ‘By a Thread’
Niall: The bulk of this one came together in a youth centre in Drimnagh in Dublin – one of the places we locked ourselves away during the album sessions. I remember some local kids dancing outside the hall as we turned this one up a notch. What was a very Strokesy beat and tempo broke into a lovely call and response chorus. And our mixing engineer extraordinaire, Jesse Gander inserting some female spoken word sample to great effect.
Barry: The chorus melody came together very late on this one. So for a while, for me anyway, this track was literally hanging by a thread. Lyrically it’s about two people who, despite their best intentions just aren’t quite right for each other.
3. ‘Love’s Lost Landings (Part 1)’
Niall: One of the very first songs from the very first album sessions to come together. We rehearsed this in London way back in November 2016. Almost opposite to ‘By a Thread’, it starts disjointed, the drums collapse in and the bass and guitar harmonics very much play off each other. This may have ended up on the scrap heap along with ‘part 2’ if it wasn’t for the glorious chorus Barry came up with in that cottage in Connemara. I think we played this chorus riff for an hour straight. It was only the day before we went in to the recording studio that we split.
Barry: Yeah that chorus is so satisfying and brings the track together. Without it I’m not sure it would have gone anywhere. We also pulled a stonking drum-charging outro out of the bag. Very simple and, on the surface at least, perhaps unimaginative. But it just packs such a release after the preceding tightly wound 2 minutes of glitchy angst.
4. ‘Sounds Like Theft’
Barry: The genesis of this track also came during our first rehearsals for the album in London. For a long time, like a lot of those early demos, it was simply referred to as one of the tube-line stations. We did this so we could identity all the different ideas from that weekend. This one stuck. The lyrics allude to generational conflict between old and young.
Niall: This is what we refer to within the band as ‘classic Bouts’…dirty, driven, hooky, short and to the point. Incredibly satisfying to play, not overthought or overwritten. This mid-section of the album is the reward for anyone that likes the band from before that might be thinking ‘WTF is this shit?’ up to this point.
5. ‘Passing Through’
Niall: Can you tell we were listening to a lot of Parquet Courts during this time? Another from the weekend locked in a youth centre in Drimnagh. Probably our goofiest song yet, 2 chords, big and bright and with a shameful pub-rock ending.
Barry: I think of this as our glam-rock number. Especially the really over the top falsetto ‘Stare Right Through’ refrain. Weirdly, every time I hear it I always think it would have fit really well on the Dumb & Dumber soundtrack.
6. ‘Face Up’
Barry: Sometimes you build a song and spend time writing and re-writing. This “magiked” into existence before our eyes and kicked the album session into gear almost immediately. I really hope we captured the excitement we felt as it came together on the recording. It’s about staring things down and keeping your head high. I liked the literal contradiction illustrating the bigger message.
Niall: Probably the song we built the entire album around. We were driving down to Galway on New Year’s Day 2017 and listening to a LOT of Grandaddy. I think it probably showed up straight away as it’s the first thing I remember doing in Galway and came together incredibly quickly. Didn’t change all that much from the first full run through to the studio recording. Almost came fully formed.
7. ‘Big Reveals’
Niall: A great drum track that linked together two demos we had. Think it was Fiachra McCarthy, our producers’ idea, to get Barry to shout along with the scratchy guitar solo in the middle. We’re as surprised as anyone that it seems to work.
Barry: This was as “standard indie-rock” as it got for us during the demo sessions. It’s pleasingly simple and direct and we had a lot of fun throwing down walls of guitars on this. Fiarchra got into it in a big way and was literally throwing different guitars at us to maximise the squall.
8. ‘Love’s Lost Landings (pt. 2)’
Barry: Formerly stuck on to the end of ‘LLL part 1’ as a long outro before we decided less is more. Personally, I like the lyrics, the linearity and the purposeful melody of this track. The song feels like a journey or looking out a window at passing scenery. The lack of a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure definitely gives it that vibe.
Niall: Its repetitive nature actually worked to its advantage in building up the track, guitars, then vocals, then bass, then synth and drums, Fiachra (engineer) and Jesse Gander (mixer) deserve a lot of credit here, we threw everything we had at this one and they helped us build it. ‘Love isn’t enough on its own, it’s a flotation device to help you home’ was kind of ringing in our heads for weeks after recording this.
9. ‘Moving Fast and Slow’
Niall: A very simple song initially written on a piano in a rehearsal at the University of Amsterdam where Barry was studying at the time. As such it was written entirely by him and came together just before we met up to do the final rehearsals.
Barry: We had a soft spot for it, so it snuck on the album. Was literally one take, with everyone crashing in for the last 30 seconds. It’s so short and perfunctory, it felt like the perfect coda and was always going to be the album closer.
Flow will be released on 25th January on a limited run of 100 vinyl records. Pre-order yours here.
Follow Bouts on Facebook for more updates.
Bouts UK & Ireland Tour Dates 2019
Jan 26th – Lion Coffee + Records (matinee show) – London
Jan 26th – The Finsbury Pub – London
Jan 30th – The Roisin Dubh (upstiars) – Galway
Jan 31st – Pharmacia – Limerick
Feb 1st – Roundy – Cork
Feb 2nd – Underground – Dublin
Feb 3rd – Menagerie – Belfast
Photo Credit: Brid O’ Donovan