A horrible hack

Origami Horses


Year Released: 2014
Format: LP
Label: Magnetic Eye
Reviewed by Alex Hannan on Oct 19, 2014
ORIGAMI HORSES try on a number of styles over the course of their debut LP, but the one they seem keenest to showcase is their garagey side. The LP title and the first three songs point the listener in that direction, giving us a stroppy, subversive tone that reminds me of a more garagey MCLUSKY; and a pounding, almost psyche-rock stomp, familiar chord sequences scuzzed up with guitar effects.

"When B-sides mattered" has an infectious swagger. The drummer shines, engineering an unusual but effective build during the latter half of the song. Their treble-heavy sound doesn't really let the band take it all the way to the climax you expect, but it's still a quality opener. "Velvet rock", released as a single prior to the LP, retreats into cliché - a chorus of three chords and the words "Get it on." If you're going to go there lyrically the rest of the band need to pull something special out, otherwise you might as well stick on T-REX or TURBONEGRO... and they don't manage it here. I'm obscurely irritated by the out-of-time tremolo shimmer on the guitar throughout, an effect which pops up in "Surveillance suits you" as well. "Ruby's magic circle" is very MCLUSKY, spindly, obnoxious guitar lines adorning a motormouthed vocal rant.

It's a surprise to have them suddenly drop the cultivated sneer and spend half the album taking a jaunt into dewy-eyed U.S. indie-rock. The sunny, chiming "To Spiderland!" could be the work of a different band, taking on the slightly goofy shuffle of ARCHERS OF LOAF. "Boilers" is a meditative, gently building track with a touch of organ which pays off in a sputtering, distorted guitar break before slipping back into relative calm. It's a delicately managed piece of songwriting which works really well, but they don't always keep that knack. "Love as a near death experience" doesn't conjure anything special out of its simple chords and undistinguished lyrics - "Oh, she calls my name / Oh, she says I am to blame."

The second half of the LP is less interesting. With the exception of closer "Double chime", there's not much here that wasn't done better on the flipside, and some of the songs could do with editing - too many extended codas with repeated lyrics. "It takes time, it takes time, it takes time," goes "A spoken word introduction", and "Year of all the dying horses" gets stuck on the phrase "This is my life and times, don't stop me." "Rock" is a campy little garage-trash genre exercise complete with tongue in cheek lyrics - "You know she hit me with a rock / I said girl that has gotta stop" - but it feels out of place on the LP, like a speedbump between the very FLAMING LIPS-like "Dumb luck" and the 6 minute long, gently shambling "A spoken word introduction."

There's clearly talent on display here in some catchy songs and interesting arrangements, but ORIGAMI HORSES haven't yet synthesised their influences into something individual. A stronger unifying vision or aesthetic focus could gather their positive traits into something really compelling.

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