Race Horses Furniture(Stolen Recordings) Buy it from Insound
Though lad rock continues to enlighten young English men to flaunt a swaggering attitude like a badge of honor, it’s reassuring to see that bands like Race Horses manage to overpass the scholarly apprenticeship of Liam Gallagher academy. But the Aberystwyth, Wales band are more finely tuned with undervalued (in a historic sense) frontmen like Ray Davies and Bryan Ferry, whose innate penchant for sophistication just flows through every inch of their body. That marriage between artsy stylization and dirty glamour made their debut Goodbye Falkenberg such an eye opener in the saturated realm of British indie rock. And though comparisons to their Welsh compatriots Super Furry Animals came faster than Viva Brother’s demise, their psych-leaning tendencies were an afterthought compared to the album’s more regal, multi-layered arrangements.
Lead singer Meilyr Jones has an instantly mesmeric charisma, so it’s only fitting that the direction Race Horses take on their follow-up is less uptight and roomier, more colorful. His fractured falsetto may not be as lofty, but it perfectly compliments a body of tracks that are unassumingly crafted. So those expecting them to dive further into more exploratory territory may find themselves in for a surprise, as Furniture has a strong new romantic essence that spreads out gently like a musky fragrance. Race Horses are proficient at mimicry, so when first single My Year Abroad pulses with a slick synth throb and an echoing, dramatic chorus it becomes clear that they’ve been sifting through their parents’ Flock of Seagulls records. Which is a very good thing. Race Horses bring a more unrefined approach instead of taking the role of bedroom recorders obsessing over making every keyboard effect sparkle with a thick glaze. But to neutralize its exciting pop crunch with the soulless cocktail funk of Nobody’s Son is a damning misfire. Talking cues from a Nile Rodgers eighties production on your second record isn’t flattering in the slightest.
Some of the earliest tracks on Furniture fare much better, like Sister, a tuneful AM pop track that’s meant to be sung with the widest grin. And unfortunately it peaks right from the get-go with the title track, a snappy little number that molds an orchestral stroke with a prominent piano part. So while the band are suddenly fashioning themselves with different points of reference, that same spirit of irreverence emphasizes their arduous pursuit of pop songcraft. But the results would be exponentially greater if they didn’t overthink their next move so much.14 September, 2012 - 08:01 — Juan Edgardo Rodriguez