Artist Review: OUTLYA

‘Celebratory sounding choruses make you feel like you know every track immediately’

Intro to OUTLYA:
 Emerging back in February with their debut release ‘The Light,’ OUTLYA are fast becoming a hit within the UK music and festival scenes. Comprised of Will Bloomfield, Willem Olenski and Henry Kilmister, this London-based trio would seem to have a clear mission in mind: to create hook-driven tracks that lifts you. If this is indeed their aim, they have certainly achieved it as each track is not only one you want to listen to again and again, but one that you want to be part of as well. Read on to find out why you should be discovering OUTLYA now.

Featured Track 1: The Light
As debut tracks go, ‘The Light,’ released in February, is everything you want. Opening with rock influenced guitar themes and drum rhythms, it’s a no-nonsense wake up call to OUTLYA’s music. Setting out the main harmonic ideas, it is an extended opening section that feels like anything but an introduction and for that reason, you are immediately absorbed by it. Unexpectedly, after this, the first verse gives contrast and with short sounding staccato piano chords providing the ideal accompaniment for the lead vocal, there is a slightly more stripped back sound.

However, after the rising chords at the end of the verse, the track returns to the full on rock sound of where it began. This time though, the texture is even fuller – which is an achievement in itself – and with its anthemic sounding harmonic vocals and multi-layered instrumentation, it pushes textural boundaries. While this alternation continues in a similar way in the rest of the track, the bridge provides the perfect contrast – as well as the perfect build up – to a final chorus which leaves you as absorbed as you were at the start.

Featured Track 2: Higher
Unlike the opening of their previous track, ‘Higher’ has a much more laid back feel to it and with its surprisingly sparser sound, you are intrigued as to where it will be heading. Where it is heading though, is towards a more dance music influenced track and with the increasing use of drum machine and pounding bass synths, you are guided to a full sounding chorus. Nevertheless, while this demonstrates a change in musical direction – which is to be applauded – it for some reason doesn’t have the same level of impact as their debut, and in places I am unfortunately left slightly underwhelmed.

Featured Track 3: Heaven
Continuing with the departure from the rocky sound of their initial release, ‘Heaven,’ immediately engages you with its accented chords, rhythmic hand claps and solo guitar riffs. However, while this could be seen as moving even further from their debut, like the introduction to ‘The Light,’ you are thrown into what could easily be the middle of the track. Throughout ‘Heaven,’ you are pushed along and with clever uses of sweeping synth sounds and vocal harmonies, you are fully surrounded by musical delights from the first note to the last. There is no doubting where the main success of the track lies though. The chorus is immediately memorable – both through its production and its lyrics – and while you don’t know it when you hear the introduction the first time, it is actually the accompaniment of the chorus. No wonder it was so engaging.

Featured Track 4: Howl
If the full-on version of ‘Higher’ can be seen as a little underwhelming, OUTLYA’s latest release ‘Howl’ (which introduced me to them in the first place) can be seen as the total opposite. Starting with almost no introduction, a thumping bass drum sets out the tempo and contrasted with sustained piano chords and call and response vocals, there is a subtle sense of drive. Quite unusually there are almost two verses before we initially hear the chorus.

The second of these works brilliantly as a way of building the texture, and through the introduction of a more regular drum pattern and a pre-chorus filled of insanely catchy guitar lines, we are guided with ever-increasing energy to the celebratory sounding chorus. Like OUTLYA’s other tracks, the bridge – with its slight breakdown section – works perfectly before returning to a rousing final chorus. It is a track, which, like all OUTLYA’s others, makes you want to be part of it and that is exactly how great music should be.

You can follow OUTLYA here and all of the singles mentioned are avaliable on multiple online platforms.

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