Review Summary: a contradiction
Recommending Horse the Band to someone isn’t as easy as it used to be. Before A Natural Death was released it was as simple as “dude it’s breakdowns and ***... but with chip tune keys” and said person would instantly know whether or not it was worth their time. Obviously that’s an over simplification of their music but in comparison to Desperate Living, their previous releases ARE simple.
It’s straightforward, light hearted anthems about being a badass band. Happy synths, bouncy drums and “HORSE the mother ***ing Band mother ***er” following a by the book breakdown. It’s fast and dense thrash influences transitioning into a techno break you can dance to followed up with a minute long classical piano piece. Lyrical content is equally varied, from songs about ‘science’ police pursuing the perfect DNA, to shaking the tears from a rape victim’s eyes. Its not as crass as it sounds, thanks to vocalist Nathan Winneke’s creative writing and delivery. A failed relationship is summed up with the line “like dinosaurs!!”. An existential crisis is described by an Italian plumber who contradicts himself with every word.
Funny, serious, progressive or not… what remains constant is Horse the Bands ability to create a fun yet challenging sound. It feels as though each member intentionally keeps their distance from typical metal pit falls. Drums stay off the double bass and cymbals, opting for a cleaner precise ‘rock’ sound instead. The guitarist (singular) doesn’t do anything too fancy, keeps the cleans clean and brings the distorted grooves when needed. Nathans vocals find a nice middle ground between core and skramz and his lyrics have an abstract gonzo feel to them that more than redeem his occasional singy/spoken word passages. Lord Gold on keys is a consistent highlight throughout the album almost competing with nathans vocals and providing most of the atmosphere. The nostalgic Nintendo sound is still prevalent, its just not nearly as interesting as everything else he’s adding to the soundscape.
It’s difficult to describe Horse the Band’s Desperate Living because it’s an album that doesn’t allow itself to be classified… and that is exactly why it’s worth listening to.