Who knew horses had feathers? How wonderful. Horse Feathers have been going about their quiet business for twelve years or so now and this fifth LP sees the band head towards a new dynamic with a bit of a Northern Soul feel. Justin Ringle's warm, bearded tenor sings of work, love and life. Welcome to the club.
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A band that once counted two Brodericks amongst their house, Justin Ringles has continued to lead Horse Feathers down the straight and narrow of folk rock. On ‘Appreciation’, though, it sounds like he wants to see the bright lights, adorning their lovely, low-key sound in a genre version of glamour. His songs here are floatier, more hymnal, reaching for anthemic gravitas while keeping fragments of their sweet, acoustic sound at heart.
“Born In Love” just makes me smile; it’s marches of brushed drums and encouraging twinkles of the piano, Ringle singing as if something big and majestic is going to happen tomorrow, after we’ve slept. Its bold, anticipatory feel leads to blood-rushing choruses that sweep in with yearning twang. There are so many little parts to this song, but they flit by seamlessly, the succession of strings, synth rhythms and vocal harmonies all coming together like linked arms.
I could expect literally no one to write a song this good ten times over, but this bold stride in songwriting -- like taking the Horse Feathers sound and giving it the shiny raucousness of Broken Social Scene -- makes Ringle’s new record beautiful, one of non-stop gorgeous atmospheres. “Best to Leave” puts us back a gear but shows just how he can mesh the two things together, offering a gravelly bassline and a smooth, lounge aesthetic that the violin can dance up against. With its trembling backing vocals and dovetailing stringwork, “Don’t Mean to Pry” takes the Horse Feathers sound and fully scopes it out, once more proving that a pitch-perfect melody and a little reverence to Big Music can go a long way.
Ringle never goes overboard; he gets us dreaming big, and that’s enough. This record is Horse Feathers’ most ambitious to date, and somehow remains lovely, ultimately resting on what we already know about the band.
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- Appreciation by Horse Feathers
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