Shares Lead Single/Video “Elegance”
Office Culture—the Brooklyn-based band featuring pianist-songwriter Winston Cook-Wilson, guitarist Ian Wayne, bassist Charlie Kaplan, and drummer Pat Kelly—announced today that their next album, Big Time Things, will be released on September 30th, 2022.
Following the electronic avant-pop of their debut album I Did the Best I Could and their critically acclaimed second LP A Life of Crime, Big Time Things—the band’s third album and Northern Spy debut—is a more maximalist affair. Written and recorded across the course of three years, it is a meticulously orchestrated and groove-forward record featuring nine of Cook-Wilson’s most ambitious compositions to date.
Alongside the announcement, Office Culture shared lead single/video “Elegance”, which features Caitlin Pasko and Carmen Q. Rothwell on backing vocals, Ben Russell on violin and viola, and Jess Tambellini on modular synth. Cook-Wilson had this to say about the track: “‘Elegance’ is about pushing past and toward new challenges—how that cyclical process can begin to feel like your purpose in life, or become a way of expressing devotion. It’s about empathy, dealing with disappointment, and putting yourself aside for a while.”
Big Time Things is a story of crossed wires and missed connections, sleepless nights and scrapped plans. On the third album from Office Culture, the magic is in how every element of their texturally rich, emotionally complex music conjures these same visions. The choruses offer humble pledges (“I only want you to be happy”) and uneasy interruptions (“Stop, I feel nervous”); the band swells and sprawls; the arrangements incorporate strings, horns, and backing vocals, suggesting how each moment casts its own shadow.
Office Culture’s most ambitious project is also their most intimate and thematically focused. Where previous albums introduced a vast cityscape of scenery and characters, Big Time Things zooms into each lonely window, so close that it can be difficult to know what exactly we’re looking at. In Cook-WIlson’s hands, it’s not always easy to differentiate love songs from breakup songs, moments of connection from total isolation, forward momentum or a quickening spiral.
The music behind his words suggests the full story lies in the blur. Office Culture have never sounded so dynamic or alive, their music so full of intricate detail and open air. While you can still hear traces of their longtime staples—Joni Mitchell, the Blue Nile, the ECM catalog—Big Time Things expands into new and adventurous territory. Occasionally, it recalls Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters band backing Scott Walker in the 1980s; other times, it feels like D’Angelo’s Voodoo recast as an opera.
As Cook-Wilson sings about feelings that transcend language (“A Word”) and moods that shift too quietly to be registered (“Suddenly”), he seeks to break from any songwriting tradition, following his thoughts to their open-ended conclusions. This approach leads the band to uncharacteristic moments of dissonance, as in the skronking tightrope of “Line,” and breakthroughs that glide with newfound grace. In “Elegance,” the band rides a tender, catchy groove, stopping and starting on a dime. As they reach a steady climax, Cook-Wilson looks us in the eyes and offers this wisdom:
Everybody’s got a list to check off but
Nobody knows what they wrote it for
Well, you don’t have to be like that with me baby
Lists never did me any good before
And so, he tears up his lists, looks inward, and follows his heart.
Big Time Things is out September 30th, 2022 via Northern Spy Records and is available to preorder here.