An Horse – Rearrange Beds

anhorse

An Horse – Rearrange Beds (Mom & Pop Music; released March 17th, 2009)

“But my hips won’t give anything away, not tonight, not to you / but I think we both know you will stay…” sings Kate Cooper on Camp Out, the first song off of An Horse‘s debut album Rearrange Beds– it’s kind of a fitting omen to self-describe the record. It’s like a creepy teenage LiveJournal entry. I wanted to hate it, but strangely I don’t. My immediate reaction was; “Hmmmm, Australian emo-twee-pop… man, I’m gonna hate this!” But it’s really not bad at all- says the douchey music writer after his fifth listen of the record. Her hips may have kept her secret tonight, but she bares just about everything else and I have in fact, stayed to listen. She was absolutely right about that…

So of course I want to put the album in some kind of context, and I notice they recently toured with Tegan & Sara, and there it is all spelled out for me- a pop-driven two piece that writes confessional, clever, witty and sometimes sarcastic lyrics, aided by Damon Cox. No wonder the Quin sisters asked them to tour with them; they’re the Aussie version of those Canuck wonder-twins.

The album was recorded last year by Magoo (known for his work with Midnight Oil– remember them?); the album includes some tracks from the previous EP- these are new versions completely re-mixed by Howard Redekopp (The New Pornographers and Tegan & Sara). That’s the last time I’ll bring their name up during this review, I promise.

There’s a definite struggle going on here; an angsty, early-twenty-something versus the world sort of vibe all over the record. It’s wrapped up in accessible melodies, boy-girl call-and-response vocals, rocking guitars draped over bedroom confessionals. If there’s one thread on the record that’s shared over and over it’s this: relationships are hard. Almost every song dwells on the “stuck points” where love gets messy- the tendency to fixate on disabling neurosis in oneself and how it cripples relationships. That’s my early twenties in a nutshell.

So maybe this record is speaking to me on that level- but it also speaks to the part of the music appreciator in me. It sounds incomplete and under-developed, which for most bands in and of itself is somewhat crippling; however, An Horse doesn’t let that stop them. So what if the album has a rushed feel to it? Who’s life isn’t frantic and full of unfinished moments, words left unsaid, dangling in your throat waiting for release? It’s a good start, there’s plenty of time to get things right. It’s called maturity through mistakes and it’s part of the beauty of growing up.

Highlights of the album would be the following tracks:

Postcards– with its idea that “return to sender” is the worst thing that could happen to the postcard she tried to send you; the words you didn’t get a chance to read. It happened two times this month? She’ll still be sitting by the door and waiting for you…

Company– here’s the perfect example of that “crippling self-neurosis” she just can’t get out of. You’re together in her room, listening to records, she’s wearing your shirt, but she can’t seem to let her defenses down. She’s about to, and… no, wait, the moment’s gone and you both missed it forever.

Little Lungs– I should probably say a little more about the actual music under the lyrics, so here’s a slow-builder that keeps picking up steam, starting out with just soft guitar and tom-toms, eventually adding a bass line, some guitar distortion, girl-screams-at-boy-screams-back-at-girl: “I didn’t reply to your letter ’cause I’m not an idiot…”

Listen– closes the album down with Kate‘s best vocal delivery of the record, it’s this soft and dreamy guitar piece accompanied by melodica, with the single most telling couplets on the record;

“…I’ve had a little too much too think / and empty rooms tend to make me believe in you / surrounded by everything I own / boxed ready to go and not before time…”

There’s your teenage sister’s LiveJournal entry- bad emo poetry. Part of me totally hates the fact that I like this, yet the fact that it’s so sincere and authentic is endearing. I used to like Death Cab For Cutie for this same reason; I still listen to We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes all the time- this record is sort of like that. And there’s the other part of me that’s like- ah, fuck it; I won’t remember writing this review years down the line…

…but I will remember all that late-teen/early-twenties shit I went through, and maybe this album will be there for someone else’s bullshit teen angst.

Tracklisting:

1.   Camp Out
2.   Postcards
3.   Company
4.   Horizons
5.   Rearrange Beds
6.   Little Little Little
7.   Little Lungs
8.   Scared as Fuck
9.   Shoes Watch
10. Listen

An Horse