Horsey – Debonair (untitled recs)

Horsey – Debonair (untitled recs)

Imagine your cruise liner was sinking and you were far from any aid.  We’re going full-on modern Titanic here.  How would you behave?  Would you be the one freaking right out and screaming gutturally from the very core of your being?  Would you decide to be the quiet one in the bar, making the most of the last hour of complimentary drinks and the calming effect of the house band’s after-midnight lounge set, before surrendering to the ocean’s cold embrace?

Abject terror and extreme nonchalance compete for our attention on Debonair by Horsey.  Life in general seems to take you down and modern life seems particularly negative on the buoyancy front.  Horsey give us options on how to react accordingly.  The best way to listen to Debonair is to close your eyes and imagine Sports Team, King Krule, Willie J Healey, Black Country New Road, The Lemon Twigs, Courting and the characters of Scooby Doo and Wacky Races all sprinting maniacally around the passenger decks, then sporadically standing stock still.  Possibly hiding in a cupboard, a grandfather clock or a behind large pot plant.

Opening with ‘Sippy Cup’, it offers a psychedelic glam-punk starter that could be a theme tune to a demented 1970s TV game show.  There’s a similar ‘theme music’ quality to ‘Underground’, where the central refrain could accompany a montage of children’s artwork that’s been sent into a kids’ TV programme.  The refrain’s main three notes could similarly precede 1980s supermarket announcements.  Yet ‘Sippy Cup’ and ‘Underground’ are both sobering in their own right, due to their themes of extreme youth and of death respectively.

‘Arms and Legs’ and ‘Clown’ can have you feeling like you’ve finally been accosted by that bloke you’d always seen in the town centre, but managed to avoid.  “Touch my face” and “Touch me in an alleyway” in that context can feel queasily, uninvitingly Alan Partridge.  At best, they take on the absurdity of an early Vic Reeves song.  The final section of ‘Clown’ would be the perfect soundtrack to someone smashing up their own living room.

We’re offered some classical touches on ‘1070’ and ‘Leaving Song’.  The latter has ninety seconds of wandering minstrel guitar strumming that could be centuries old.  The former builds in tempestuous emotions, caused by a tortured piano line and lyrics of unrequited love.  It becomes swiftly obvious, though, that the unrequited love is caused by the sheer awkwardness of the unrequited lover.

‘Wharf’ epitomises the vacillating moods of the album.  It’s definitely loungey and tropical, yet the vocals slide in with “I’ve puked on all my ties.”  There’s a Ray Manzarek Riders On The Storm’ keyboard thing going on and a Gary Moore-style guitar solo, but it’s distorted by overdrive.  The jazzy sax line has a slow, tense, breathless sense, until it attains an air of panic, at which point it sounds like Lee Thompson from Madness is being chased by a leopard.

The Ben Folds chipper piano bounce of ‘Lagoon’ is the high point, both in terms of optimism and in terms of the songs of the album.  The repetition of “We could go anywhere,” basically sums up what we can expect at the start of any Horsey song.  Some will raise a glass in the bar with them as the ship sinks.  Some will scream and run.

Debonair is out now via untitled recs.

6/10

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