Hymns for a Dark Horse



by xNintendoCorex USER (8 Reviews)
May 25th, 2009 | 11 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Organic, natural and exquisitely beautiful

For the sake of simplicity, Bowerbirds are essentially a folk band teeming with a creativity and sense of realism, realism that enables them to produce music that isn't artificially padded with obscure instrumentation and melodic filler that would ultimately render it complex for complexity's sake. But in its intricacies and the delicate execution of the songs, it still manages to hold its own against the tide of folk bands they have to compete with.

Like many of their peers, the music of Bowerbirds is centered around highly melodic vocals and lightly strummed or finger picked acoustic guitars. Filling out the possible gaps in the sound, they also make use of the violin, accordion, tambourine and hi-hats, all of which boldly emphasise the natural feel of the album. Each of the melodic instruments provide a very earthy and organic sound in a similar tonal range. This selection of aurally similar instruments focuses Bowerbirds sound to the tune of a thousand rainy days, whilst its no walk through the morgue, 'Hymns for a Dark Horse' constantly pulls you back down to reality with its melancholic lull.

Immediately parallels can be drawn to artists/bands such as Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Great Lake Swimmers, but even then Bowerbirds manage to carve out their own niche sound in this rather popular genre. The percussive and very rhythmic nature of the songs Bowerbirds writes is essentially one of the defining aspects of their sound that forces you to take notice of them in amongst the myriad of Indie/Folk/Pop groups traversing the earth.

All throughout 'Hymns for a Dark Horse', you can hear feel and sense the world around us come alive to the pulses and the clank of the bass drum. The bass drum falls deep within the mix, never overbearing the instruments in front of it, but at the same time providing the final bit of polish to every song. The deep hits of the bass drum are reminiscent of the sound of timpani drums, accenting various aspects of the lyrics or the melodies played by the other instruments. Concurrently in many instances the side stick hits provide a precise clockwork structure and rigidity that pushes the songs forward and engraves their general heavy hearted tone.

With a hinted influence of shoegaze these 10 tracks of melancholic bliss continually shift between a childlike sense of optimism and the pessimistic realisations of adulthood. Constantly drawing influence and allusion to the earth around us, Bowerbirds provide some insight into their take on humanities footprint on this blue dot we inhibit. References to snails, cockroaches, branches, roots and well mannered individuals all aid in describing various aspects of our lives sometimes from the perspective of an unashamed environmentalist, other times simply as another individual blundering through the days, contemplating hope and life.

Bowerbirds are a band that will surely become synonymous with the folk genre in years to come, their creative and soulful songwriting props them on a level slightly above many of their peers. While highly focused, 'Hymns for a Dark Horse' occasionally falls victim to monotony, with a very limited sense of dynamic and emotional variance, the songs come across flat, heavy and often downbeat. But ultimately the simple song structures and catchy melodies prevail, allowing the songs to carry a heavy mood without compromising their easy listening nature.

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user ratings (26)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 25th 2009


Bon Iver!
Great Lake Swimmers!
I need to listen to this.

May 26th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

house is the worst, i serioulsy cant stand it.

also silence, was this your 666th comment? if so sweeet!

but yes, awesome album, they deserve some exposure!

May 29th 2009


thanks for the rec! this looks very very nice... *downloading as i type

May 29th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

no worries!

let me know what you think/thought

May 29th 2009


I like this after 1 listen... the Bon Iver comparison definitely fits, I hear a little Frightened Rabbit too... this will be getting many more listens in the near future.

May 29th 2009


will check this out for sure

May 29th 2009


band sucks tho D:

May 29th 2009


oh shi

May 29th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

dont listen to him, listen to the music

decide for yourself, and if you still dont like it.

fair enough!

May 29th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

checked this out myself,

really good stuff.

Good review too

Activista anti-MTV
September 29th 2011


Good things! I see a few mistakes in your review as well as a few spots where you are not as clear as
I would have liked. Nonetheless, good job! Thanks!

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