Pulled Apart by Horses are a band that are renowned for their live performances, their shows consisting of much sweat-inducing mayhem and carnage, not to mention their seemingly endless ability to injure themselves. That kind of raw energy and atmosphere is hard to replicate on record, but on their self-titled debut album, to a large extent, they managed to do so.
I’ve been looking forward to Tough Love, for a while now. Many bands lose their way on their second album, but I’m delighted to say this isn’t the case for the Leeds quintet. They manage to keep all the frenetic energy of their debut, whilst creating an album which feels more crafted and focused.
The lead track and first single from Tough Love, ‘V.E.N.O.M’, is a calling card for what is to come. After careering straight into an infectious guitar riff accompanied by manic drumming, Tom’s vocals come in, and a trend is set. It’s precisely what you’d expect from them, but much, much better. The drum-roll just after halfway through is a stroke of genius, building up to a powerful guitar-fuelled climax.
There isn’t anything bordering-on a weak track on Tough Love. ‘Shake off the Curse’ and ‘Give Me a Reason’ illustrate how much Pulled Apart by Horses have grown as a band, and are perfect advertisements for their blossoming song-writing ability and musicianship. ‘Degeneration Game’, all the way down there at number ten, makes you want to jump up and down until your head explodes, before a Pixies-esque entrance into the deliciously sprawling ‘Everything Dipped in Gold’ brings proceedings to an end.
Each song seems more coherent than before, with a wide range of influences on this record. The end of ‘Wolf Hand’ doffs a cap to Nirvana, whilst clocking in at less than 2 minutes, ‘Some Mothers’ is Pulled Apart by Horses’ very own answer to ‘Song 2’.
What makes the album so fresh is the lack of a linear structure on each track. At times this album is pure, unmitigated balls-to-the-wall rock music, but when you least expect it, it will shoot off on a heavier tack, or slow the pace down. A vibrant mix of rock, indie, metal and punk to create something that demands your attention and never feels stale or repetitive. However, there is a strong focus amid the chaos, maybe a telling factor being the loosening of time constraints upon the recording of this album. The song-writing has matured without losing any of the fun or vitality from their earlier material. The more you listen, the better it gets; every spin brings a new unexpected discovery.
I’ve heard a lot said over the last few years about rock music being dead, and whilst Tough Love is not purely a rock album per se, as long as music like this is being made, rock will never die.