Their previous singles teased and seduced but now UK indie band Horse Party go straight for the heart with their debut album Cover Your Eyes. Its eight varied and shapely tracks provide a raw and flavoursome adventure which simply captures the imagination with no respite whilst simultaneously asserting the Bury St Edmunds trio as one of the brightest emergences in recent times.
The birth of the band goes back to a drunken night in a church where drummer/vocalist Shannon Hope and guitarist/vocalist Seymour Quigley badgered guitarist/ vocalist Ellie Langley through ‘abusive messages’ to join up with them. Fuelled by a mutual passion for the likes of Bjork, Fugazi, Cat Power and terrible films, Horse Party came in existence and soon pulled in strong acclaim with debut track Clarion Call, a free release which took the band to the attention of BBC Suffolk Introducing whilst sparking numerous support slot offers including one with Dingus Khan. A second single and a live EP called Scarlet & Blue followed to increase the weight of their emergence whilst last year saw the trio playing over fifty shows which including sharing stages with bands such as Tunng, Pinkunoizu, Shonen Knife, Heartless Bastards, Ghostpoet, The Nightingales, and Vuvuvultures, perform a live broadcast via BBC Introducing from the new John Peel Centre for Creative Arts, and release their third single through new label Integrity. It was certainly a fruitful and busy year for the band, one set to continue in this with already the album release and a tour currently being undertaken proving a striking success.
The album opens with Back To Mono, a track which instantly jabs at the ears with fuzz lined guitar strokes with a more than Beatle-esque tempting to their dramatic coaxing. The jagged tease is soon aligned to an equally compelling melodic exploration and feisty rhythms whilst Ellie’s vocals cast a stirring lure over the lot. It is not an explosive track but one which is unrelenting in its repetitive incitement and insatiable in its want to charge up the imagination. The firm almost imposing beats continue to drive on the track, never relinquishing their potent bait even in the more open and blustery chorus. The song is merciless with its enticements, band vocals a glorious web to lay their narrative and the sonic designs veining the song irresistible colour, but it is that blinkered core of the song which steals the biggest rapture.
Clarion Call makes a less striking entrance but with its minimalistic guitar bait equally draws a keen tempting which flourishes further with the addition of the distinct vocal of Ellie and against lively beats. Before they bring their rich hues there is a feel of Young Marble Giants to the song which then develops into a broader deeper catch of sixties garage rock and chilled indie persuasion. The further it extends its body the stronger and fuller the track evolves, guitars again painting evocative textures which the vocals and chilled harmonies wrap themselves around. Already the album has attention and appetite seduced which Scarlet & Blue reinforces with its smouldering caress and sultry air. Though it is a simmering melody crafted temptation there is fire in the belly of the temptress, incendiary raw clashes of percussion and riff providing imposing crescendos within the graceful and mesmeric immersion of the senses. Live the track is masterful but now having heard in from a studio breeding, it shouts with the emotive beauty and innovative invention of Horse Party.
The following Inbetween with a skittish percussive invitation brings a Fleetwood Mac elegance and flight to its equally vivacious energy. It is a tremendous mix, soaring melodies and mellow vocals tempering but egging on a racy energy and brisk rhythmic provocation. It is another infectious and inciting pleasure easily matched and surpassed by What Do You Need. From a great first impression when released at the tail of last year, the single has grown in weight and potency over time for us and sitting within the album seems in its element as it boldly opens with drama and intensive seducing which outrivals even the first track. A restrained strum is punctuated with deliciously heavily weighted drum thumps, their dynamic pokes spearing the maze of melodic intrigue spiralling across the canvas of the song. Their forceful intent is tempered once the vocals unveil their expression within the weave of the song, though within that restraint they wait to pounce again, which they do with a slow but certain relish as the song stretches and explores its boiling textures and imaginative corners. The busy chorus brings thoughts of Alanis Morissette but only to flavour another original and frisky encounter from the band.
The next up Six returns to a sweltering climate, its thick heat and evocative atmosphere enveloping ears and thoughts with emotive tenderness whilst guitars and bass carve absorbing shadows. Passion flows as animatedly as the sonic sculpting which fires up the jazzy expulsions of the song whilst that sixties feel permeates yet again with a garage rock blaze to the sweltering air lying invitingly over the enthralling creative landscape.
Let The Man Die catches expectations by surprise not only, as the songs, with its immensely tasty sounds and invention but also by Quigley taking the lead, his tones a potent variation to the album. The song is pure rock pop, the most accessible track for newcomers proving that the strings to their creative bow are as wide as they are diverse. The track is unafraid to add a little post punk beauty especially in its climax either, just to tease and reassure that intrigue is never too far away from the heart of the songwriting.
Closing with the acoustic To Know You Less, a very decent gentle caress to end the show, Cover Your Eyes is pure aural majesty. Singles alone have suggested that Horse Party is a very special proposition but together with their new companions they declare the band as one of the UK’s most exciting and original prospects. Remember it is still early days for the band too so horizons look very rosy for them and us.
Cover Your Eyes is available digitally now via Integrity Records with a gatefold CD version with 16-page booklet released on Monday 12th May 2014.
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