Out Of Service
Reflections and Refractions: Volume One

Typically when most bands decide to make an acoustic record, it’s to re-record some of their old hits or re-imagine the possibilities of where they could take their songs in their discography. Out of Service is not like most bands. When the time came for lead vocalist Mike Capuano and guitarist Teebs Williams to begin thinking about their fourth album, they were unsure if the songs that they were writing would be best suited for this project. The tracks they were cooking up were largely based in the acoustic style, and yet through their picturesque storytelling and song structures, they all seemed to fit the continued narrative of the band. By the time that bassist Brian McGovern and drummer Ken Bond had heard what would become the bones of Reflections & Refractions: Volume One, they were convinced that these songs belonged under the umbrella of Out of Service. With everyone on board, the band spent nearly three months carving out these songs and recording them Perkins Center for the Arts, a nearly 100-year old building. The recording process was done in the living room that had wooden boards that helped accentuate the reflective and refractive sound of these songs. While the acoustic side of some bands feels a little forced and lacking of theatrics, Out of Service embrace this challenge head on and continue to explore the limitless possibilities of their music.

The album starts off on a bit of a somber note with “Room 9,” as Capauno bellows with, “When was the last time you looked in a mirror / And saw something you liked?” The introduction of more piano strokes on the song highlight a band willing to take some calculated risks to move the needle of their creativity in the right direction. The song is one of the more straight-forward tracks on the record, but it’s textured sounds and harmonized vocals make for a brave opening statement. “Serenity Now” follows the brooding opener with some great drumming by Ken Bond who kicks the song into the right gear for his bandmates to rally around. It builds up to a nice chorus that features Capuano’s crisp vocals paired with some creative riffing by Williams.

My favorite song on the front half, “Folk 3,” showcases the band’s ability to take a fairly simple beat and add contextual layers around it to create a nice wall of sound. The self-doubting lyrics are as relatable as they are tragic, since we all have our faults, but they never let the darkest of thoughts outweigh the light. “Folk 1” seems more like the “campfire” side of the band that makes each of the clever strums of the guitar (and banjo) feel purposeful, and in just the right place. While “Hindsight” didn’t grab me after the first few listens, the band quickly redeem themselves on the piano-laced “Reflections.” Each of the thunderous chords on the piano sound great, and further complement the vocals of Capuano brilliantly.

The majestic, dreamscape pop found on “Obscured” covers new territory for this talented band, and shows that they are not satisfied with just a simplistic acoustic tone to each of the songs. The heavy acoustic charge on “Other Side” gives a bit of juice to the album that had the danger of sounding too similar in the sequencing, and it’s a welcomed departure from the front half of the LP. “Revisions” has a more familiar tone to the material that the band tackled on The Ground Beneath Me, and could’ve potentially worked somewhere on that record if it didn’t feel more at home on this collection.

The one-two closing punch of the start-stop tempo found on “Drown the Static,” paired with the longest song on the record, “Refractions,” put the spotlight on the rich, layered sound that Out of Service are getting damn close to perfecting at such an early stage of their musical careers. Reflections & Refractions Volume One is a well-balanced record that brings plenty of surprises to it, and still leaves the listener wanting to hear the next part of this journey in a hinted Volume Two somewhere down the road. Acoustic records don’t always sound this fully-realized, and yet Out of Service have put together a rustic collection of songs that each complement each other as much as they embrace the conflict that resides in all of us.