January 27, 2012
Review: Pulled Apart By Horses – ‘Tough Love’
“When I was young I was a dick. Nothing changes!” cries Tom Hudson on ‘Wolf Hand’, perhaps a bit of a harsh self-critique from the Pulled Apart By Horses singer, but with that kind of conviction, who are we to argue?
The Leeds noiseniks have returned from their extensive travels to grace fans with another album of rambunctious post-hardcore. And this time, they’ve only gone and done the requisite follow-up-self-made-debut-with-proper-studio-album-produced-by-someone-who’s-worked-with-the-Pixies-and-Foo-Fighters type affair. Not that producer Gil Norton has taken over here — the tracks remain short and sweet, in a hit-it-and-quit-it style that gets its point across before vanishing in a puff of dry ice.
Lead single ‘V.E.N.O.M’ is quality stuff, complete with eyes-down, heads-nodding riffs and a memorable-if-incoherent hook. Shades of the recently reformed At the Drive In permeate Tough Love, and none more so than on its fiery opener.
Throughout, Hudson’s vocals jump from the screams of D.C. hardcore to straining Cobain-isms (‘Give Me a Reason’ certainly has a Bleach-era Nirvana something about it), adding yet more dynamism to already sparky tracks. Bass player Rob Lee (not the former Charlton and Newcastle midfield general) and lead guitarist James Brown (not the late Godfather of Soul… we think) play off each other with a precision surely built from time on the road, and it’s their interplay that informs many of Tough Love’s better moments.
For a band known for their explosively volatile live shows, Pulled Apart by Horses do a reasonably decent job of transferring that energy to tape. ‘Bromance Ain’t Dead’ invokes The MC5 at their riotous best, while ‘Night Of The Living (I’m Scared Of People)’’s syncopated chorus throws some disco rhythms into the mix, before breaking down into an unnerving section of creeping tom rolls and single note guitar wails, crashing back into the hook before Vincent Price’s imminent monologue can get a foot in the creaking door.
A cogent 33 minutes of no-filler riffs and closely structured arrangements, Tough Love is progressive but never prog; certainly more coherent than the band’s previous effort. The humorous and bizarre track names may have disappeared (there’s no ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ or ‘E=MC Hammer’ equivalents here), but there are still enough of the playful elements that endeared fans to that debut to keep them on board. It may be the album to make PABH admirers out of those not already on the bus, but its tighter productionand playing will irk the ‘purists’ who will forever claim the rougher edges of the band’s debut to be their pinnacle. But fuck the purists.
Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON