Written over the space of a year, but recorded in a fortnight, straight to tape, in Ryan's central Manchester flat, 'Horsebeach' is a gorgeous journey through Northern, jangly, dreamy guitar pop. From as far back as The Wake, through the now de rigeur C86, and of course via The Smiths, this is bedroom introspection gone widescreen.
Gorgeous songs of love and longing, this music has a lilting, drifting quality, sometimes reminiscent of Felt, or of a meandering, jangletastic Real Estate, of whom Ryan is clearly a fan. Chiming guitars, brooding melodies, thoughtful words. 'Horsebeach' is a very lovely record indeed.
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Horsebeach first came to my attention via the superb ‘Faded Eyes’ 7” earlier this year. Its lovely melancholic faded polaroid beauty caught me right in the middle of my post Real Estate ‘Atlas’ comedown. In fact, the band is best summed up as a rainier overcast answer to Real Estate with the trembling suburban poetry of The Smiths ingrained deep within their dna.
Many of their songs conjur up an image of days gone by, sitting on a Lancashire hilltop overlooking the houses and factories below. Stop me before I get too ‘Saturday Night Sunday Morning’ on your ass. Their influences can easily be summed up by listening to the first couple of tracks, the aforementioned ‘Faded Eyes’ perfectly recreates that Real Estate ‘Days’ summery jangle whilst ‘Yesterdays’ at a push could be the early hesitant Smiths. The credits confirm that all tracks written and recorded and mixed by Ryan Kennedy alone. Quite an achievement but it also signals the albums only weak point, the playing (and in particular the drums) is at times rudimentary and hesitant sometimes holding back slightly some of the livelier tracks. Still, it gives the album a naive bedroom pop charm and what it may lack in proficiency it makes up in evocative northern songwriting. Kennedy has a way with spidery Johnny Marr-like guitar lines and melancholic vocal lines best exemplified on the superb ‘Dull’, a delightfully breezy ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ re-write which (like a certain other band) eerily brings up images of lost days in a decaying Victorian Manchester.
There’s no getting away from The Smiths influence but regardless this is a beautiful and completely essential album for fans of dreamy 80’s melancholic jangle pop.
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