It is fair to say that Horses In The Abattoir has been one of the most eagerly anticipated encounters this year here at The RR thanks to a series of singles before it which have involved the senses and imagination like few others. The impact of those tracks certainly also put extra pressure on the new album from Canadian duo TRAITRS to feed our maybe over greedy expectations courtesy of those earlier lures so with esurient intrigue we went exploring.
Within minutes the reality was revealed and pleasure fired. From start to finish, Horses In The Abattoir enthralled and fascinated with its sonic imagery, emotional turbulence and atmospheric intimation providing a powerful evocation and exploration for band and listener alike, one sparked by its provocative title alone. Darkness haunts every note and breath in a release which Sean-Patrick Nolan (Synths, piano, sequencing and programming) describes as looking at the theme of “passing time and aging; the frailty and impermanence of existence.” Equally there is an inescapable intimacy and unrest to the release which is bred in the darkness and light the pair experienced at the time of writing as professional success entangled and conflicted with “personal loss, depression and exhaustion.” It brings a vulnerability to the songs within the album which further escalates and intensifies its emotional dispute and raw captivation.
Nolan and Shawn Tucker (Vocals, guitar, bass guitar and lyrics) cast a sound which swirls in ears and imagination with a cinematic merging of post punk, dark wave and post rock aligned to the inherently catchy inclinations of indie rock. There is a certain early Cure meets Interpol meets Gene Loves Jezebel aspect to it but as their 2018 debut album, Butcher’s Coin, and now its successor prove it has increasingly enforced its own uniqueness on ears and references.
Produced and mixed by Josh Korody and TRAITRS with the former adding additional percussion across the release, Horses In The Abattoir immediately gripped attention with opener Sea Howl. The rich melancholic draw of a piano brings it to ears as atmospheric winds immediately circulate in the background. Tucker’s equally heart-rendered tones soon lie alongside, the track gradually thickening its texture and tempest with claustrophobic contention.
It is a striking start swiftly taken further in impact by the following Mouth Poisons. Atmospheric warmth with its own sense of dispute descends before the song springs its infectious canter. As one compelling bassline drives the encounter, synths emerge with cloudy intimation upon the shadow embracing beauty of the track. It is an inspiriting yet unsettling fusion of emotion and texture, rich captivation fuelled by heart bearing essences in sound and voice.
With just as fertile persuasion Prostitution gripped and inflamed the senses next, its initial electronic rhythmic lure a thick coaxing to which synths and drama soon attached their manipulations. There is an eighties synth pop/gothic rock hue to the TRAITRS sound which rises with eagerness in the song, its infectious swing urging the darker aspects of heart and reflection to almost joyously share their angst.
One irresistible moment makes way for another as Magdalene wraps its sorrowful reflections and consuming malaise around the listener with inherently contagious facility and intensity while Oh, Ballerina casts its own individual drama of sound and emotive unrest amidst a dark rhapsody of beauty. From vocals to keys, ambient intimation to dextrous physicality, the song consumed the appetite for dark temptation like an addiction. It is forceful yet elegantly reserved as it aligns emotional jeopardy with galvanic reassurance around Tucker’s ever fascinating vocal and lyrical conjuring.
Flicking across numerous sofa seen aspects of the modern world, TV Hours emerges with its own thick embrace of intimation bearing sound and vocal anxiety to ignite ears and thought before All Living Hearts Betrayed draws its particular tapestry of tension, heartbreak and enthralment. As across the album, darkness and emotion forged shadows court both tracks with the second an especially dense and compelling engagement, aspects escalated with even more sunless compulsion by From This Old Mirror.
With Ghost And The Storm wrapping the senses like a seductive ever evolving smog, of course carrying its own particular dark dilemma and crepuscular radiance, and Last Winter rose up around ears like a dense tenebrific serenade, band and release only furthered their mesmeric temptation and tight hold with album closing The Way Through A Bird’s Love bringing the album another bewitching fusion of disquiet, trepidation and overcast but enlivening beauty.
From first to last breath, TRAITRS weave an experience which is borne of heartbreak and turmoil but equally the brightest aspects of life to challenge the dark with intimacy and broader reflection. Organic beauty, bearing its own emotive and sonic clamour, only adds to the captivation and the voracious majesty that is Horses In The Abattoir.
Horses In The Abattoir is out now via Freakwave Records; available @ https://traitrs.bandcamp.com/album/horses-in-the-abattoir
Pete RingMaster 09/12/2021
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