Horsegirl – Versions of Modern Performance – Album Review
by Killian Laher
Chicago youngsters Penelope Lowenstein, Nora Cheng and Gigi Reece have just released their debut album which will have thousands of 90s-era indie rock fans racing to their stereos. Early on, Anti-glory gives the listener a good idea of what to expect, with strong drumming, classic 90s indie guitars and spooked-out vocals. Guitars growl just the right amount as Lowenstein commands “Dance! Dance with me!”. The warped pop of Beautiful Song and Dirtbag Transformation (Still Dirty) are a pretty fetching sort of warped pop, but they also rock pretty hard with MBV channeling guitars. After three or four tracks of this, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an excellent ‘synthesis’ of their influences but perhaps needs a bit of spark. The instrumental interludes Bog Bog 1 and Electrolocation 2 are pure shoegaze, all gauzy guitar.
Weirdly, if anything the album is backloaded with the stronger tracks coming towards the end. After the imperiously lumbering The Fall of Horsegirl, the album kicks up a notch on the hard-rocking Option 8, with guitars that just race along. They brilliantly reference Gang of Four on World of Pots and Pans flipping the line from Damaged Goods (“sometimes I’m thinking that I lust you but I know it’s only love”) over more growling guitars. Amazingly the album improves even more after that with the very Sonic Youth-y Homage to Birdnoculars, singing “fall into my wormhole” over and over, which works brilliantly with the guitars. The album ends with the super explosive guitar rock Billy, this one apparently features none other than Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth!
The first couple of listens to this album you think you’ve heard it all before, but by the third or fourth listen you realise you might have, but not put together as well as this. It’s not just an exercise in indie rock collage, it’s just… pure enjoyment, great-sounding music. Less knowingly self-conscious than Wet Leg, interestingly the physical version has a slightly different tracklisting to the streaming version, perhaps the clue is in the album title. Could this be the shape of things to come?