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Dark Horses – Black Music

Nicola Sloan


Dark Horses are a mysterious bunch, almost too cool for their own good. Hailing from Brighton, the band seem to live in a monochrome world, clad in leather jackets while looking appropriately moody and mysterious, their sound a blend of a blend of arty, textured rock and roll with a touch of electronica.

Their debut album, Black Music fades in with the slow burning Rose with its grimy bass line. Despite this the track doesn’t leave much of an impression on the listener, turning it into an interesting choice for the opening track of a debut album because you’d expect the band to choose a song that would really grab you by the throat. The echoey, anthemic second track Radio is however much more accessible. It is the first stand out track of the album, reminiscent of nineties shoegaze, the delicate vocals of front woman Lisa Elle like a wash of rainbow watercolours over the gloomy monochrome riffs. This is followed by the similarly excellent Alone, which boasts airtight production and a driving bass line.

Unfortunately the album does descend into dullness at times. Without a doubt the sounds are beautifully textured but a lot of the tracks outstay their welcome and are maybe a little too slow burning for their own good. It doesn’t help that at fourteen tracks in length this is quite a long album and all these qualities add up to make the album quite inaccessible. Still, of the later tracks, the best are Traps with its fuzzy organ intro and its swaggering jangly riffs, and Sanningen On Mig with its sweeping wintry vistas of distorted guitar sound.

Elsewhere there is a cover of Talking Head’s Road To Nowhere which is somewhat at odds with the sound of the rest of the album; rather whimsical with the dappling of harp and the girly dah dah chants. It’s really too twee for the rest of the album. There is also an unusual choice of closing track – an entirely instrumental short piece of music that would probably have worked better near the middle of the album.

Despite its downfalls though it could be said that this is in many ways an assured debut, because it’s clear what direction the band are taking in their sound, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Kasabian (Mr Meighan himself even makes a guest vocal appearance on Count Me In). This is in no way a nebulous album, even if the inclusion of Road To Nowhere is a little at odds with the overall sound. And if the album isn’t all that accessible, I get the feeling that, quite frankly, Black Horses don’t give a damn. They are far too cool for that.