Horse Jumper of Love
So Divine


3.5
great

Review

by Mathias USER (23 Reviews)
July 4th, 2019 | 43 replies


Release Date: 06/28/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A droopy haze inviting you into something-or-another.

Combining elements of slow-core, shoegaze, lo-fi, and emo, Horse Jumper of Love is a band that is as enigmatic as their name suggests. Having a sound that can best be described as droopy, the band trudges along with small snippets of musings on life that can be anywhere from reflections on personal doubt to what appears to be a damnation of the current state of our country’s climate. On So Divine they can go from lyrics such as “I spilt yogurt on the plants outside / And the dishwasher goes infinitely backwards” (Volcano) and immediately follow it with a song where the only lyrics are “All the cops burst into tears of joy / When it’s announced we’re in a police state” (Cops). Delivered with a depressing earnestness, both songs and sets of lyrics somehow manage to fit not just coherently into a single album, but also as back-to-back tracks. At the same time they don’t fit into any sort of meta-commentary that the hazy world that So Divine may attempt to create. They are ideas that are shared quickly and may just as easily be missed, emerging into the foreground and just as quickly retreating into that foggy distance. The opening duo of “Airport” and “Volcano” quickly set this tone, with the former itself being particularly strong. The opening track slowly builds from frontman Dimitri Giannopoulos singing about “feeling invisible with his clothes off” with a driving guitar rhythm that slowly builds and turns into an ending of distorted guitars and steady drums, continuing to grow until its abrupt ending, making the listener question whether the soundscape was even there in the first place.

In another set of contradictions, So Divine manages to create an incredibly intimate setting that is delivered from the aforementioned distance of a man wanting to share his thoughts, all the while hoping that no one is listening. It is clearly a personal album, with only frontman Dimitri Giannopoulos likely knowing the meaning of his own lyrics as he delivers them in his oddly soothing cadence. The lo-fi stylings also help create this feeling of intimacy, with many songs, such as lead single “Poison”, being mainly simple strums of guitar and basic drum beats - but just as you begin to think the haze has begun to clear and you can see clearly into what the band wants you to see and hear, a wall of sound arises that shows that, despite what you were beginning to think, you may not actually be welcome into this little world they have created. The guitar begins to explode, the drums fight back, all raising into a cacophony of shoegaze inspired climax, before retreating once again. The haze returns, the dream-state surrounds you, and you again have no idea what the hell is going on, but continue to enjoy it. This can make So Divine quite enticing, but can also serve to frustrate when it's not quite clear whether the music serves any sort of purpose.

Album highlight “Ur Real Life” is the culmination of the album, with the lows of the song being among the lowest of the album, but the highs clearly being the highest, including a section with shouted lyrics and an almost bluesy guitar line coming in and out of distortion, with the line “I am not going anywhere” being delivered at varying intensities. It is the best example of the band’s combination of genres that, on paper, may appear to contradict each other. It also leads into what would could be a completely stunning ending trio of tracks. “John Song” contains perhaps the most confusing lyrics on the album, all while managing to sound romantic, with a simple guitar line and Giannopoulos’s layered vocals leading into an outro that takes clear inspiration from My Bloody Valentine. “Stray Dog” sounds like an attempt at a slow-core folk song, along with the most clear-cut and easy to follow story-like lyrics of the album. “Nature” carries on the blues theme from “Ur Real Life” and would end the album with an almost perfect lyrical excerpt to sum up the whole of the album: “It was too visceral I don’t know / If you’ll ever see it clearly". This couplet could be used as the basic mantra of Horse Jumper of Love.

Unfortunately, this is not where “So Divine” ends. “Heaven” is a track of dissonant lo-fi noises that seems to be an attempt at trying to make a more clear-cut ending when there doesn’t need to be one. Horse Jumper of Love includes a few of these instrumental transitionary tracks and each one of them is just as unnecessary as the one that precedes it. With the exception of “Cops”, tracks like “Aliens” and “Twist Cone” only serve to create a forced distance for the listener, as opposed to the one that was created naturally throughout the ambiance of the entire album. Fortunately and unfortunately, the album is quite short, clocking in at less than thirty minutes, meaning that these interludes are not too disruptive to the overall listening experience, but also leaving the feeling that there is wasted space on an already limited runtime. However, even with these clunky missteps, Horse Jumper of Love have managed to create an album that invites the listener in for a pleasing journey, although hell if anyone knows where that journey actually leads to.



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user ratings (26)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
dmathias52
July 4th 2019


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Take two at this! Actually under the right album this time. Any feedback is appreciated.

Enjoyed this greatly, but slightly disappointing compared to their debut. Still worth checking out though!

Digging: Courtney Swain - Between Blood and Ocean

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"At the same time don’t fit into any..." - need something between 'time' and 'don't' there, but that was the only glaring technical problem I saw.



In terms of content, I liked the approach you took regarding the album's contradictory elements. Have to say that, in my personal experience, this quite nearly bored me to tears and the emotional extremes you talk about seemed rather muted to me. However, your writing concerning it was very nicely done.

Digging: WRVTH - No Rising Sun

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2019


24913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is great, still think I prefer their debut but Volcano and Cops are killllller songs. Good job covering this

dmathias52
July 4th 2019


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Marskid! Yeah I think their debut did a little better with the emotional highs and lows, whereas this one is more consistently blasé. Which some people actually might see as a strength honestly

And thanks Con! Pained me to drop it down to a 3.5 cause I still really enjoy it, but it just doesn’t engage me as much. And those transitions and the closer kill me

North0House2
July 4th 2019


6048 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I honestly love it but truly wish it were longer. I actually really enjoy the sound of Twist Cone but it's so short, and Cops is amazing but the climax is... So short. I also wish the outro on John Song lasted longer. My real only complaint with the album is how short it is, but I definitely think they made a super unique album and it shows definite growth compared to their debut IMO.



Heaven is just annoying though it's the only track I skip lol.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2019


16140 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn, nice one! Was lining this up for an easy feature but you beat me to it (get this boi on the frontpage!)



Feels a bit weird seeing the phrase 'album highlight' used twice but otherwise killer write-up, enjoyed reading (pos train yes plz)

Digging: 3776 - Saijiki

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2019


16140 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I feel invisible with my clothes off.

I crawled up into the ceiling panels,

And fell out in the airport

dmathias52
July 4th 2019


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah NorthHouse, I don’t necessarily dislike the sound of the transitions, just feel like they don’t serve much of a purpose. I also agree there’s growth from the debut, but I feel like the debut just showed the rawness and melancholy sound a bit better.

Oh dang, sorry to steal the review from you Johnny! Glad you enjoyed the debut enough to give this one a check, I’d still love to hear your thoughts. And thanks for the feedback, definitely weird to say album highlight on album with essentially 8 songs lol

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2019


16140 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hahaha I'm glad you got there first tbh ;] So I LOVE Stray Dog - really hit me in the feels in a way the rest of this didn't, and the lyrics in general are great (with the sole exception of "Can I put a bandaid on my mouth to stop it from coming out again?"). There's a lot of disorientation and ambiguity here, as you covered in the review, and these guys still have a knack for working that round to a weirdly emotional end. Problem is, I'm generally less sold on the music. It's good to see they didn't get complacent in the clear dynamic contrasts and Built to Spill worship of the debut, but the atmosphere here isn't quite as consistently engaging... will have to listen through some more

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Everything here felt so incredibly tired. The vocals were so devoid of emotion and the instruments followed suit. The heavy moments contrasted the lighter ones so strongly that it was jarring rather than engaging.

dmathias52
July 5th 2019


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I definitely see how this could be divisive because of that. The tiredness sounds deliberate and engaging to me, but less so than on their debut. It sounds like them trying not to care, but not in a cringey ironic way (but barely)

WatchItExplode
July 5th 2019


7098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Maybe you guys are biased because you love the last one but the last half an hour of this album is freaking incredible

dmathias52
July 5th 2019


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wait do you mean the last half hour? Cause I agree the last half is incredible (minus the closer) but the whole thing is less than 30 minutes lol

WatchItExplode
July 5th 2019


7098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really? Feels like it's an hour. I guess that's because it draws you into a trance and time feels like it standing still

WatchItExplode
July 5th 2019


7098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

But I mean the album basically begins for me at poison



* also I dont think it is possible to more perfectly sum up this album...well done

dmathias52
July 5th 2019


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh yeah I basically completely agree with your thoughts, especially the time standing still idea. Especially the run from “Ur Real Life” through “Nature”. I just don’t quite get as much enjoyment out of it. And you might definitely be right about me being biased with my love for the debut.



And @Johnny, realized I didn’t respond to your comment! But I agree with everything you said, especially with the songwriting. I think it’s matured more and they’ve solidified it, but with the slow-core styling, it doesn’t make it quite as interesting when bouncing back and forth for the dynamics.

WatchItExplode
July 7th 2019


7098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm a little upset by the lack of attention this has received. Another band I probably wouldn't have tried based on name alone but am happy I did.

dmathias52
July 7th 2019


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Unfortunately I might have to take credit for that a bit with the review. Even though I really enjoyed the album and a 3.5 is a very good score (I’d probably give it a 3.7 if I could), people see a 3.5 and a push it to the side. I almost considered giving it a 4 for that reason, cause I’m definitely guilty of the same thing.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 7th 2019


10117 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This not getting attention is par for the course in my book, this was completely unremarkable.

dmathias52
July 7th 2019


847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There’s also that. This is one of that if you don’t like the style after the first couple of songs/a single, you’ll just turn it off and not return.



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