Oh lovely Horsebeach. I hope we didn't fall out too badly in that we maybe didn't give their last album quite the plaudits of their first one. Listening to this lovely new record make me feel even worse about that. The band superbly marry the melancholic rain drenched sound of the Smiths with the jangling beauty of Real Estate. Here they've introduced some synths too adding to the feel of early 80s dreamers China Crisis and the Lotus Eaters.
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Oh I remember the days when I’d trudge up some Lancastrian hill looking out onto the town below and think ‘just when will I live in such a romantic yet rain-grey place?’ Horsebeach do a canny job of soundtracking on that most complex period of my life and for that I owe them something. They are as if Real Estate relocated to Great Harwood and started writing songs about the rain - a perfect soundtrack to an unsolvable misery.
This is their third album and builds somewhat on their previous ‘II’ which I felt treaded water slightly compared to their debut. Here they’ve upped their game a bit, adding more secure, bolted on arrangements, and livelier percussion. I’ve long felt that Horsebeach could be my favourite band in the whole of existence if their songs weren’t so damn elusive. They just stop short at being brilliant. Both ‘Alone’ and ‘The Highest’ place do what Horsebeach do best which is evocatively jangling slabs of ‘80s inspired indie recorded in a kitchen sink yet it’s hard to remember a Horsebeach song once it’s gone. There’s some alterations to their sound here with a bigger emphasis on keyboards most notably on ‘How Far Must We Go’ which treads into Ducktails territory and ’Theme For Sadness’ which is purely an 80’s synth instrumental like those sometime Prefab Sprout throwaways that would appear on their early B sides. I’m still getting used to the synth lines on the title track, the way they threaten to tread all over the intricate guitar lines but the track boasts the best harmonies yet from this group of dreamers.
Their narrow world view seems to soundtrack the exact moment Johnny Marr wrote ‘Still Ill’ and Morrissey recalled the iron bridge experience. But I’m still enchanted.
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