An Horse, Walls

An Horse, Walls

With Walls, Brisbane duo An Horse hit all the absolutely-right drone-rock notes, barreling along purposefully and intently through a full pile of awesomely catchy, fast-strummed indie-rock tunes. There’s a lot here that reminds me of a less-cheerful Palomar, especially opener “Dressed Sharply” and the appropriately thoughtful “Brain on a Table,” but there’re also several moments that make me think of long-gone Austinites Silver Scooter, like the driving “Leave Me” and the headbob-inducing “Trains and Tracks.”

Vocally, singer/guitarist Kate Cooper’s got a voice that’s interesting as hell, with that kind of half-mumbled phrasing like Britt Daniel used to do on Spoon’s early records (and yes, I do realize that some of it’s her Aussie accent, but still). She’s wound tight on tracks like “Airport Death,” with its don’t-fuck-with-me vibe and almost Superchunk-like melody, and yet somehow manages to snarl bitterly and sound alluring all at the same time on “Not Mine.” There’s an intensity to her delivery, too, like Sarge’s Elizabeth Elmore or underrated Canadians Immaculate Machine, where she sounds deadly serious even when spitting out some sarcastic line.

That intensity holds true for the music itself, to boot, amping up what would otherwise be an “hey-that’s-nice” tune like “Know This, We’ve Noticed” into something threatening and ominous and addictive (I love the thundering, “My Name Is Jones” crescendo bit in the middle, by the way). The band barely slows for a breather throughout, with the possible exceptions of the sweet, Eisley-ish title track and the drifting-yet-focused prettiness of “Windows in the City.”

And then there’s that bitter-yet-alluring thing, again — for all its undeniable hookiness, the lyrics are dark and bleak, channeling misanthropy, loss, and resignation into a tight, tight ball of finely-coiled tension that stands up there with the best indie-rock I’ve ever heard. Listen, then try not to listen again; it just won’t happen, trust me.

[An Horse is playing 10/12/11 at Fitzgerald’s, along with Kevin Devine & The Rocketboys.]
(Mom & Pop Music --; An Horse --; An Horse (Facebook) --
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Review by . Review posted Wednesday, October 12th, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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