The Welsh outfit has matured, honing its craft, and the results are special indeed.
Mike Haydock 2012-09-04
That’s what happened during the recording process of Furniture, the Welsh band’s second album. When they wanted a break from the studio, Race Horses popped along to a nearby disco, listened intently, then returned and tried to impose some of Quincy Jones’ techniques on their own record. They wanted it to be organic and rhythmic. They wanted it to be far removed from effects and computers and any hint of hazy shoegaze waffle.
The end product is a clean, crisp album of joyful art-pop; indie that has been playfully bent out of shape. It fits into a tradition that you can trace back to Dexys Midnight Runners, then forward to Pulp, and up to the here and now: Field Music, Metronomy and Dutch Uncles.
Race Horses, now a five-piece, have kept some of the eccentricity from their debut, Goodbye Falkenberg, but this is a much more coherent album. The shift between English and Welsh has gone – all of these songs are sung in English.
There are staccato moments, especially on the opening pair of Furniture and Mates, but there are also plenty of smooth lines and dreamy tunes. Nobody’s Son and What Am I to Do are gorgeous, sweeping pop songs, while Bad Blood, with its jogging chorus beat, is a brilliant combination of The Futureheads and Yeasayer.
The tone is upbeat throughout, drenched in warm melodies – but the lyrics hint at dark subjects. Fraying relationships; between friends, between lovers. “We are furniture,” Meilyr Jones sings on the title track. “She doesn’t see me, I don’t see her.” Then, on My Year Abroad: “I might still love you if I had left you long ago.”
Pain, it seems, has focused this band. It hasn’t dented their optimistic spirit, but it has helped them mature and hone and craft, and the result is very special indeed.