Leeds four-piece Pulled Apart by Horses is one of those bands whose name I’d heard around a lot but never got the chance to give them a proper listen. I’ve always had an inkling that I would like them though, so I am glad to have finally stopped and listened.
Described in industry terms as ‘too heavy for the indie kids and too indie for the heavy kids’ they sit pretty well with me, not only for their heaviness but also for the fact that they are not ones to be boxed and labelled and that gives them a ‘punk’ edge which is hugely appealing. Their ‘not giving a f*ck’ attitude comes across in their music too but especially so in this, their fourth studio album The Haze.
The intention here was to get back to basics and back to their earlier sound; slightly rougher round the edges. Producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys/MIA/Drenge) was keen to help capture more of their live sound too, more of the raw intensity. So they locked themselves away in a cottage in Wales and got down to making sweet music together.
What has resulted is a very tasty album indeed. I am getting notes of Nirvana and Sonic Youth coupled with an almost retro-punk style reminiscent of The Undertones, though to be honest, Pulled Apart by Horses seem to defy genres with ease, which is probably why they have been known to describe their sound as ‘back door scuzz rage pop’.
On the writing process for the new album bassist Robert Lee and singer Tom Hudson say:
It was just the four of us, locked away from the world and any distractions. One of the biggest influences in writing this new album was the new band line up. We’ve known Tommy for many years, ever since the early days when the band first started, so it was a comfortable transition, but it definitely injected some new life and created a whole new level of creative spirit within the band. Our band has always been a democracy, with each individual member contributing their own ideas, so with Tommy’s input, we were able to push things in new directions and challenge ourselves in new ways.
Tommy has a different style of drumming – he’s a bit more hard-hitting, like a Dave Grohl / John Bonham type – and so that changed the dynamics. He probably felt like he had something to prove, and in terms of creativity and pushing ourselves, his presence really made everyone step up.
The 12-track album explodes with title track “The Haze” and you’re immediately met with crunchy high-energy riffs and engaging vocals. There’s an urgency and excitement here and it’s an ideal track to be placed first, it gets you fired up and eager to know what the rest of the album contains.
Lead single “The Big What If” follows with a brilliantly catchy tune throughout and a cool video (which you can view below).
The tempo drops for perfectly-timed track six “Lamping” which could be described as going down a scuzz/psych/stoner rock route but is no less engaging for it. We’re gradually brought back up to speed with the next two tracks but highlight for me is “What’s Up Dude” which starts out with an old school indie sound and then grows into a powerful full-throttle groove with depth and psychedelic layers abound. Brilliant off-kilter final track “Dumb Fun” brings this quality album to a close.
The album paradoxically exudes the fresh energy of a debut but with the quiet confidence of a band nine years into their career. And when you’ve toured with the likes of Muse and Biffy Clyro you’re allowed that confidence. It also plays like a live show with the track order well chosen to take you on a perfect journey and without question, leaving you desperate to catch them live… Thankfully you can as they tour the UK in late March and April.
- 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
- 07 Newcastle, Think Tank
- 08 Leeds, Brudenell Social Club