Upbeat Melancholia. The two words that stick with the listener through the 39 minutes of music on Spook The Horses latest offering, People Used To Live Here. The third outing from the New Zealand based band brings post-apocalyptic post-rock to the world, as one sits back and revels in the beauty of gloom and despair.
When five can play the guitar, two are proficient behind the drum kit, two can work the synthesizer, and two handle vocal duties, you know you have a plethora of talent waiting to be unleashed as the six-piece act brings in a plethora of inspirations to their album. This abundance of talent is what give Spook The Horses their edge, as they experiment with various sounds and ideas all throughout the album’s runtime.
The music on People Used To Live Here is synonymous with the album title, as its mostly stripped down, atmospheric post-rock music that is bound to captivate an attentive listener. Beginning of “Lurch” sets the atmosphere right off the start. The slow buildup of the guitar notes and the ever-plodding drum pattern might just convince you the record is an experimentation in doom-pop (if it were to exist, this would be it!). “Crude Shines” picks up where the opener left, and delivers a nifty dose of doom laden post-rock, as clean notes, crumbling basslines, and melancholic clean vocals take the stage. But the peak arrives only on the ending of the trilogy, as “Blessed Veins” brings Dark Side Of The Moon era Pink Floyd-esque psychedelia of droning guitars interlaced with clean guitar chords and trance inducing rhythmic percussion drum beats.
Nearly reaching the midpoint of the record, the next half probably showcases Spook The Horses’s biggest strength, and People Used To Live Here’s biggest weakness. The strength lying in the rich diverse sonic talent of the band, and the weakness being the cohesive nature of the record. “Made Shapeless” and “Near Then, Far Now” sees Spook The Horses build upon their sound into a much more upbeat post-rock sound. The gloomy drone sound disappears and paves way for melodious chiming chords, with the haunting vocals giving way to soaring vocal harmonies. The remaining 15 minutes on the record offer a similar experience as “Herald” takes one down a gloomy drone trodden path akin to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but the very next moment you have the ethereal “We All Know Your Name”, which brings some of the best works of God Is An Astronaut to the listener’s mind.
While in the modern age of listening to single’s over entire albums, this dual contrasting sound is not a big drawback. It does hamper the immersive experience People Used To Live Here could have possibly been, though. Nevertheless, Spook The Horses deliver top notch performance throughout People Used To Live Here. The music, despite being stripped to the bare minimum, has a spooky horror laden beauty. Through its contrasting nature of dark and ethereal moments, it delivers a tale of a place forgotten, where people used to live, but no longer do.
Notable Tracks: “Crude Shines”; “Made Shapeless”; “We All Know Your Name”
FFO: God Is An Astronaut, Russian Circles, Rosetta
People Used To Live Here can be streamed for it’s entirety on YouTube or purchased digitally on iTunes. The album is also available for purchase through Pelagic Records web-store [Digital/CD/Vinyl]. To be up to date on the latest news and tour info for Spook The Horses, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.