Ogre You Asshole’s “Homely” practically begs to be considered as the band’s artistic leap forward. The band has traded in the guitar-centric, 1990s-indie sound of its previous releases for a slower-moving vibe featuring an abundance of bongos and saxophone. It’s a challenging LP to dive into: the catchy immediacy of the group’s past is replaced by random vocal samples and soft-rock signifiers. Yet Ogre’s shift in sonic direction on “Homely” comes off like giving a flophouse a fresh coat of paint — new sounds trying to distract from plodding, go-nowhere songs.
The trio (a quartet before bassist Hiraide Norihito left the band last month) stretch a fair share of these tracks into the five- and six-minute range, a strange decision seeing as Ogre doesn’t do anything interesting with the added time. The group isn’t new to long-playing songs — it has had plenty of them over the years, and for the most part they’ve built to some sort of payoff. Now, Ogre makes aimless faux-psychedelica (“Rope”) and drawn-out slow burners (from the fifth track till the end). Only on “Fensu no Aru Le” does it hit a sun-breaking-through-the-dark climax, making it a highlight.