Manchester dream-pop OG’s Horsebeach are back with a new album, filled to the brim with their signature style of swirly sounds and sleepy vocals. The nostalgia inducing, bitter sweet tones of this record make the The Unforgiving Current sound like the end of the summer.
The overall sound of the unforgiving current is typical of Horsebeach, with twinkling arpeggiated guitars layered atop of synth swells and relatively uncomplicated basslines and drum loops. However the Manchester outfit's fourth album certainly shows growth and maturity in their sound, showcasing a band that aren’t afraid to take a step away from their Lo-Fi roots, towards a more pop orientated sound. Yet Horsebeach manage to retain what attracted so many people towards them in the first place, and even the most purist Lo-Fi Jangle Head could easily get their teeth into this album.
The album opens with the track Net-Café Refuge. The track has a driving and unfamiliar feeling towards it, especially as it builds in the introduction towards the first verse, with moaning distorted guitars drifting about the mix like ghosts. It takes nearly 2 minutes before released of at least some of the tracks tension by Ryan Kennedy’s vocals. Setting the scene of a dingy Net-Café, Kennedy has spoken about this track on Twitter, stating that it was written shortly after he had moved to Tokyo. During this period he was spending a lot of time in the local net café, he eventually came to love the place he sings so eerily about in track one. Still, the tension created in this track brilliantly exemplifies the feeling of being far away from home in a new and unfamiliar place, and makes for fabulous listening.
One element clearly evident in this record is subtle disco-influences, which merge together with the dream-pop sounds of Horsebeach to create what can only be described as “Stoner Disco”, and it sounds luscious. The rhythmic, CHIC-esque guitars are mixed so effortlessly into the dream-pop sound, that it could be described as the musical equivalent to an artisan smoothie you paid £8 for in the new trendy food market in your city. A “Wait, why is there spinach in this? Ooh that’s actually delicious” moment. Tracks where this is particularly evident include, Mourning Thoughts, Vanessa, and Trust.
The second half of the album is more ‘traditionally’ Horsebeach in terms of the songs’ production style and melodies. Lo-Fi vocals and über-jangly guitars take precedent over the more produced and poppy first half of the album, with tracks Unlucky Strike and Mother echoing past albums the most heavily; however Horsebeach aren’t too rooted in the past, and The Unforgiving Current shows a dream-pop band who are very able to move with the times, and outswim the unforgiving current that is indie tastes.