Maybe it was taking a breather after seven years of going at it. Maybe it was setting up shop and needling out the music in the Welsh countryside. Maybe it was taking a look back and really thinking, “Where do we go from here?” Or maybe it was a combination of these and a load of other unknowables.
Regardless, Pulled Apart by Horses sound absolutely re-energized on The Haze. You can hear a fire in the band that was been relit. We’re not exactly saying Pulled Apart by Horses has become fully self-actualized, because who really ever gets there? But we are saying this is the best they’ve sounded on record.
On top of that aforementioned maybes, the band also brought in a new drummer. Tommy Davidson joined the crew, and you can tell he’s brought some rhythmic force to say the least. Additionally, the band worked with Ross Orton to record the album – he himself is a drummer, so the clarity in this part of the production is very apparent. But more than anything, Orton wanted them to sound like they did live. So that’s what they went for.
We know what album opener “The Haze” has going on for it. So how about the rest of the album?
Experimentation is afoot, that’s for sure. On “The Big What If,” the band goes towards a neo-surf meets post-punk vibe. Tom Hudson’s voice bursts and stretches as he shares an appreciation for the grittier side of things. It’s here you get the picture that Pulled Apart by Horses are going to throw middle fingers in the air and enjoy living/making an album.
You see a good bit of psych elements as well, most notably on “Lamping” and “Brass Castles.” The former really turns up the factor with a time warp. They maintain the power, but they harness it from the energy of the sun and fields of flowers. It’s free-spirited with a cynical sneer. The latter track is a bit slimier, and the lyrics will have you tripping out for sure – hitting one’s face on the ground and then exploding into a million different pieces.
What’s undeniable is just how enormous some of the tracks on The Haze are. “Prince of Meats” walks into the room with a chainsaw strapped to each hand. It’s completely visceral, like early Stone Temple Pilots with more early-80s LA punk influences. They’re kind of just tired of the bullshit you have to go through on the fist-pumping atmosphere of “Flash Lads,” and the familial camaraderie gained during the recording process makes itself known in the way “Hotel Motivation” handles itself.
“What’s Up Dude” is the type of track you could see stretching the intro out while the crowd’s energy reaches a max. The words are wrecking balls flying in various directions, and there’s some Queens of the Stone Age vibes going on, especially with Robert Lee’s bass. It’s a bass that plunges into an abyss on “My Evil Twin.” This is the type of track where you could say it’s like splashing yourself in the face with electricity the way James Brown’s guitar keeps bringing the jolts.
The album ends with a bit of a swagger. You can tell the quartet feels good about what they’ve done here. “Dumb Fun” kind of stumbles and crashes out, and then you start to wonder, is this album a loop, or did it somehow happen in reverse? Maybe.
The Haze is out now. There are a lot of ways you can get it, but we always encourage picking it up from the official store. Or check out all of the ways you can get it here. Whatever you do, get it.
Finally, Pulled Apart by Horses will be touring the UK through early April. If you’re in the area, you have to go see what their live reputation is all about. The dates are below.
17 London, Rough Trade East
19 Leeds, Crash Records
20 Nottingham, Rough Trade
21 Newcastle, HMV
21 Sunderland, Pop Recs
22 Bristol, Rise Records
23 Kingston Upon Thames, Banquet Records
27 Oxford, O2 Academy 2
28 London, Scala
29 Bristol, Thekla
30 Southampton, Talking Heads
01 Derby, 2Q Festival
02 Birmingham, Mama Roux’s
03 Norwich, Waterfront Studio
05 Glasgow, King Tuts
06 Manchester, Sound Control