Originally published at: http://slatethedisco.com/2014/09/album-review-dark-horses-hail-lucid-state/
During their career so far, Dark Horses, a psych-rock band hailing from Brighton, have achieved what most bands strive to gain in a lifetime. So far they have 3 albums under their belt, releasing one a year since 2012, a Mercury Music Prize nomination, have made BBC Radio 6’s A-list, won Artrocker’s Single Of The Year, were hand-picked by Noel Gallagher to play Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall and have toured with the likes of Kasabian, The Dandy Warhols, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sigur Ros and Beck. I, myself, discovered them after they toured with Kasabian. Lead singer Lisa Elle came on to duet with Tom Meighan on ‘West Rider Silver Bullet’ and that’s when I knew she was something special.
After the critical success from the first two albums; ‘Black Music’ and ‘Fugitive Atmospheres’, it was no surprise that the band would hit back hard this year with a brand new album. Still signed to Crystal Castles’ label: ‘Last Gang’ and working again with producer Richard Fearless, the band have not failed to deliver. ‘Hail Lucid State’ is a collection of punk-pop lullabies to sooth and aggravate.
Amidst the calm surface of flowing synthesisers and Elle’s relaxed murmurs, lies a growling electro lion, waiting to pounce. In the same vein as The Horrors or TOY, what Dark Horses have done is perfectly combine psychedelic melodies with a harmony that induces an opium fuelled hallucination of vibrancy. You can see it… touch it, almost. It is a living, breathing entity of music, shrouded in a sea of angsty pop.
The opening track ‘Live on Hunger’ is the stand out, for me. It sets everything up. The growling electric guitar riff from David Waterson is accompanied by Lisa’s oh-so-soothing wails – much like Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It calms and it swells and it attacks. It sets the scene. Other stand out tracks included title song ‘Hail Lucid State’ and 80’s-esque stomper ‘Wake Up’. ‘Hail Lucid State’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a jagged drone of guitars with a thumping bass line from Anatasia Zio, who completely owns the song. It hits you like a dream-slowly and then all at once.
‘Wake Up’ is similar in it’s thudding prowess but is much more upbeat with a Cure-inspired twang added for that authentic 1980’s vibe. It just makes you want to backcomb your hair and dance about in your leg warmers, basically.
Within a genre that’s rapidly increasing in popularity, Dark Horses have created their own niche sound within it and thrive there. Though it may not be some people’s taste (it’s not exactly easy listening) Dark Horses have decided to take it upon themselves to prove that music shouldn’t be just background noise, it should be experienced. What’s so clever about this album is that it transports you to another dimension where you can feel every breath of the sighing guitars and the pound of the drum. It’s sinisterly stunning psych-rock with a pinch of electronica and even a tad of good old fashioned rock.
I don’t think anyone can touch Dark Horses and if they carry on the way they’re going there’s no reason they can’t conquer the music world completely.