Pic by Jeff Higgott
Regular readers to The RingMaster Review will know we have enjoyed an on-going affair between ears and music with UK trio Horse Party ever since they emerged in 2012 and unveiled their first pair of songs in Clarion Call and Back To Mono. Since then, as their sound and imagination has grown and evolved, each single, EP, and indeed debut album, Cover Your Eyes, has bred a lustier and greedier appetite for their post punk/indie rock seeded adventures. Now the Bury St Edmunds hailing band has a new album to excite and draw spotlights their way, and in Horizons, one suspects and hopes, the key to deserved major attention.
Horizons is a compilation of sorts; a collection of the tracks released by the band across 2015 through EPs and singles. For fans there is the added bonus of a previously unreleased track and for newcomers, Horizons is an A-Z to why Horse Party is for so many British rock ‘n’ roll at its inspiringly majestic best. Released via R*E*P*E*A*T Records, the album is a kaleidoscope of the imagination and dark yet vibrant sounds which the threesome of vocalist/guitarist Ellie Langley, vocalist/guitarist/bassist Seymour Quigley and drummer Shannon Hope weave into their songwriting and acclaimed live shows. The fact that the tracks are laid out in release order also reveals the growth in the band’s sound over the past twelve to eighteen months alone.
It opens with the two tracks which started 2015 off in major style as a 7” vinyl single. Out Of Sight is first and instantly entices ears with a dour yet flirtatious bass riff. From its first breath, the outstanding song prowls ears and imagination, a predacious air to bass and guitar leading the seduction as beats crisply land around the just as swiftly alluring voice of Langley. Though it broadens its expression and melodic touch, the song never loses its darkly hued and persistent beckoning, even as rawer rock flames accompany the new zeal and energy fuelling the vocals. With psych rock lighting adding to the potency, the track is inescapable anthemic rock ‘n’ roll which is quickly more than matched by Receiver.
The second track shows a fleeter foot in energy and rhythms, almost bounding into view as riffs jangle and entice around the just as thickly coaxing vocals of Quigley. A delicious nagging seeded in post punk and punk with a slither of noise rock to it, the song dances around the senses, only increasing its tempting as transfixing harmonies expose lust in an already eager appetite and hooks toy with an alternation of slim and inflamed bait. Like a mix of like Au Pairs, Joy Division, and Morningwood, the track is simply irresistible.
album cover by Kate Wood
What I’d Do steps forward next, its strolling gait and intensity another reserved but vibrant beckoning with emotive hues lining voice and melodic enterprise. The steely tone of bass holds ears tight from within the hazy but openly textured song, its dark touches courting the melancholically evocative tones of Langley as well as the more sultry strains of guitar. A slice of psych/rock pop, the song has a Forever Still meets Stevie Nicks air to it, and easily casts its spell on attention before Horizons shares it’s more relaxed but no less provocative presence. Quigley again takes the vocal lead, his potent presence nestling compellingly within a landscape which uncages moments of tempestuous energy and sonic voracity. There is surprisingly a touch of The Housemartins to the song and indeed a whiff of Paul Heaton to Quigley’s expression though once more what emerges is a song as distinct to Horse Party as their name.
A brand new song in the shape of For All I Know follows and swiftly has ears engrossed and enjoyment stirred as a solemn mix of guitar and bass suggestiveness wraps the equally mellow vocals of Langley and the magnetic rhythmic enticement of Hope. It is another with fire in its belly though that is held in check for the main even with the thick nudges of Hope’s swings, the drummer as shown throughout the album, able to create anthemic incitement without disrupting the emotive flights of songs.
A hypnotic nagging steers Paydirt into ears next, its persistent jab of beats colluding with scuzz kissed riffs as minimalistic but potent grooves flirt. In full swing, the track is a bracing proposition which sonically sizzles whilst in its more mellow moments it is monotone sculpted romancing of the senses, and throughout, an addictive breath-taking stroll cast in dark emotions and predatory shadows. It just lights up air and ears, melancholy lined vocals a single seduction among many shared by the song before Animal similarly provides a rousing and compelling experience. As Langley’s almost challenging tones align with choppy rhythms, the track enforces quick submission to its expanding lures. Everything about the song provokes with aggressive intent yet only flirtation is felt as Hope harries and bass and guitars stalk and erupt. That tempting is especially arousing in the passage of surf rock seduction which has body and thoughts aflame in a moment, as echoed by the lyrics, which is like the glorious eye of an equally thrilling storm.
The acoustic hug of the darkly lit and captivating October enchants next, Langley alone and in vocal union with Quigley mesmeric within the blues expressed guitar before Money Talks saunters in on a scuzzy lure of riffs. Gentle slithers of guitar and catchy beats align with the initial tenacious draw and subsequently the siren-esque call of the vocals, it all finding extra drama in the occasional bursts of intensity which punctures the highly infectious persuasion.
Essences of noise rock and new wave creep into Rocket Science next; its canter a lively enticing within post punk shadows and blues lit sonic suggestiveness. Predictability is never an element within a Horse Party song, a point tenaciously shown here as volatile textures and energies engage with the outstanding encounter’s absorbing and seductive serenade.
Smouldering surf rock inspired melodies shape the beauty of Looking For Life next, the song an elegant and radiant shimmer of melodies and harmonies around resonating rhythms. It is a bewitchment of ears, a sonic smooching of the senses and quite delicious epitomising of another quality in the Horse Party creativity, that every listen just makes a song more compelling and impressive.
The emotive soothing of Howling At The Sun surrounds the imagination next, the twin vocal seducing as rich and dramatic as the brooding atmosphere and sounds around them whilst Gratitude Falling brings the album to a spellbinding close with its evolving tapestry of beguiling sound. From a single melody, the track courts a thick growl of bass and a sharp guitar jangle, going onto breed scuzzy expulsions of tempestuous sound whilst all the while Langley grips ears with her narrative and magnetic tones.
Horizons is simply one of the year’s musts; an essential invitation not only into the creative arms and charms of Horse Party but to one of the new breed destined to inspire the future of British rock ahead.
Horizons is released on download and CD on April 1st via R*E*P*E*A*T Records and @ http://horsepartyparty.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 22/03/2016
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