Monday, 7 August 2017

Horsebeach "Beauty & Sadness" (2017)


Here's another contender for my album of the year that's been stuck on repeat these past couple of months. "Beauty & Sadness" is the gift that keeps on giving, a wondrously expressive record tinged in a nostalgia that flirts with many styles and influences while graciously holding its own. This is my first experience with the Manchester four piece outfit who have released two full lengths prior to this third. Its a sterling introduction, ten concrete tracks weighing in at thirty six minutes, precisely what I look for in a record.

Describing their sound beyond its inspiration is a tricky business, Indie Rock might be your point of reference but shades of Post-Punk, echos of Psychedelic Rock melodies and the slight Ethereal charm of soothing reverberations put it firmly in its own grasp. Then there's the synths turning up on a handful of tracks, adding another dimension to their sound without any obviously intrusion to the chemistry, it sweetly brews into the chemistry without an eyebrow raised. On "How Far Must We Go" they bring a Smooth Jazz flavor, playing like a slick saxophone over a grooving baseline jam.

To walk you through the sounds and variety that I adore about this record, it kicks off with its most ambiguous track, morphing, swirling and burying a repeated sampled voice into a thick haze of synth that brings about, dare I say it, warm, fuzzy Vaporwave vibes. From there we step into a bright setting with a gorgeous melodic lead guitar with an infectious lead melody between acoustic chord strumming. We are first introduced to the records voice, a singer who knows his range, a sincere expression that can sway between a firm tone for adventure and a more vulnerable, softer side best heard on "My Heart Longs For You, Pizza" which has a golden oldies vibe I adore, it highlights the nostalgic use of reverberation that his voice often sinks into.

The albums production is a charm of its own, the music has a wonderfully aged feel about it. There's more texture and depth to be heard in the instruments, all smothered in a warm inviting reverberation that runs deep. You might think it just stands out as a breath of fresh air compared to all the squeaky clean, compressed, volume war music of modern production but the reality its chemistry is a charmer. Warm tones, indulgent room acoustics and thick, deep baselines illuminate the magic atmosphere this one conjures.

"Breeze" introduces an instrumental break in the midsection, a drum machine guides us on a Trip Hop alike beat as a echoing guitar jams a solo over a warm murmuring baseline and hazy strum chords. Its followed up with "Theme For Sadness", an entirely synthesized composition, a slightly spooky, teetering on mystery journey that to those familiar, is vaguely reminiscent of Dungeon Synth, in an unintentional way. The title track, possibly my favorite, lures us back in with a pounding baseline and memorable synth melody, very reminiscent of a famous Joy Division song, once you hear it you can't go back!

If you've read my ramblings this far then its no surprise I'm a big fan of this record but as Ive tried to convey my experience is charmed by a unique nostalgic vibe that has me hearing all sorts of styles, similarities and influences that never feel direct, or even close. It lured me in and once there the catchy nature of the melodies had me hooked. Horsebeach make their voice and own it! Can't wait to get my claws into those two records that came before this one.

Raitng: 9/10

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