A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with Lisa Elle, vocalist with the archetypal artrock band, DARK HORSES. (The resulting NEW BLOOD feature for ARTROCKER MAGAZINE will be reproduced here in a couple of weeks.)
Obviously, a good deal of what we discussed centred on the band’s forthcoming album ‘Everywhere’ – and what an amazing debut it is!
Last year I banged on and on about The Savage Nomads (and I think you’ll find I was right about them, he says smugly!) and this year I have the same feeling about DARK HORSES. This album has ….well everything really.
Throughout the album, there is an air of mystique – the sense of which is compounded when you ally the band’s sound to their videos and live performances. It is this distinctive presence that I’m sure has contributed to the various comparisons with The Velvet Underground that seem so prolific across the web.
Now, that’s a mighty comparison! But whether or not it’s strictly accurate as far as the music goes, it’s not one that DARK HORSES are likely to either shirk or indeed ‘shake’ in the short-term at least.
I guess that if you were forced to ‘pigeon-hole’ DARK HORSES, you’d say they were principally a ‘psychedelic’ band. But then … they are more than that; much more.
For instance: on the opening track ‘Rose,’ there is a distinct Eastern vibe (Indian) running throughout; a very ‘hippy-trippy’ type of glorious vibe. The same could be said for ‘No Dice,’ but this time there is more of a dark under-belly to the sound, and the bass line and drums seem to echo the beat associated more with Native American Indians.
‘Radio,’ has just been released as a single – and is without doubt my favourite of the year!
This is followed by the earlier release, ‘Alone,’ which has more of an electro feel, but is also interspersed with little Krautrock flashes that remind me of Kraftwerk. ‘Boxing Day’ kinda keeps within this groove before the mood changes with the afore-mentioned, darker ‘No Dice.’
‘Traps,’ to me has the sound of an electro-burlesque-disco if that makes any sense. It flows effortlessly and seductively through its five minute duration. ‘Count Me In’ features the additional vocals of Kasabian’s Thomas Meighan (the two bands go back a bit together) and is a real slow-burner. The first half is pretty downbeat, but the sound fills up in the latter stages as the intensity grows, though it drops again when Thomas’s vocal drops in rather atmospherically for the last few lines.
‘Black Music,’ (all one and a half minutes of it) is like a counter-balance to ‘white noise.’ To be honest, I have no idea what this is all about, other than to show that the band is not shy of a little experimentation and variety.
‘Sanningen On Mig’ is Swedish (Lisa Elle is Swedish) and I think translates to something like ‘The Truth About Me.’ (I could be way, way off on this one!) It’s sung in Swedish, so again I have no idea what it’s about, but it does have more of a ‘serious’ and introspective feel to it. It definitely sticks out from the other tracks on the album as being more ‘heartfelt’ and personal.
There then follows an inspired version of Talking Heads’ ‘Road To Nowhere,’ before the throbbing pulse and phsych-flavoured, dreamy ‘S.U.N’ pounds its incessant beat into your brain. ‘Anna Minor,’ has a hauntingly beautiful vibe, before the album closes with ‘The Archer,’ a two and a half minute instrumental that again seems to take influence from the Krautrock exponents of yesteryear.
All in all – if you are to buy just one album this year ….. make it this one!
(Actually, I’m about to review the new album from Bo Ningen – with whom DARK HORSES have worked on a re-mix of their debut single ‘Alone,’ – so you maybe better consider buying two albums this year!)
(‘Everywhere’ is released in October 2012.)
(10 / 10)