Pulled Apart By Horses are dangerous. This album should come with some sort of health warning = “may cause you to totally lose your shit when listening and smash up an entire city.” Pulled Apart By Horses are ridiculous. They seem swamped in the past, lost in a vortex of eighties wisecracks, baggy shorts and high-fives where blonde frat boys called ‘Brad’ and ‘Chuck’ greet each other with the phrase “sup bro” and talk about catching “some killer awesome buzz on the wave yo” or some other fist-chewingly awful idiom. Ultimately though, despite their blatant stupidity and vacant positivism; Pulled Apart By Horses have managed to craft a debut album that boils and writhes with outrageous confidence and a screaming desire to destroy everything in its path.
It’s difficult to tell whether Pulled Apart By Horses are angry or just extremely excited; in some respects, perhaps both. Vocalist Tom Hudson is a cross between the N64 child on a never-ending loop, constantly celebrating the arrival of his console and the deranged homeless man that likes to eat out of your dustbin at five in the morning. Also, possibly a bear. I would like to think and hope that Hudson doesn’t have a normal voice and that his constant-opened mouth, tongue-lolling wail is his actual voice; one which he cannot regulate, making him the worst Chinese Whispers player in the world.
They kick things off with ‘Back To The Fuck Yeah’; a steady, pounding drum beat, Hudson’s rasping vocal shout backed by a barrage of dense punk guitar scrawling and the “should be annoying, but are surprisingly endearing” backing vocal grunt of “YEAH, HUH, YEAH HUH, YEAH HUH, ALRIGHT?” which is spat with such carelessness and snotty derision its hard not to join in with such a brainless, but captivating chant. ‘The Crapsons’ follows hot on the openers heels, celebrating the Zelda hero, Link under thicker, grungier rock that convulses and twists alongside the irrepressible screaming from Hudson in the closing moments.
Anyone still thinking that the ‘demos were better’ needs to listen to the closing 40 seconds of ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ which erupts spectacularly in a heady mess of strangled guitar rattles, thumping bass and lurching drum rolls. The nonsense lyrical soundbite of “I’ll make you dance with my balls on fire” is like something taken from the head of Jimmy Pop and deliciously woven into the mind of 4 demented men from Leeds. There’s some slightly harmonised backing vocals on ‘Yeah Buddy’, which compliment the raging scrape of the lead and the dip between almost summery, bouncing rock, to the closing metallic grind and raw pulsating aggression.
‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ is so cocky, it’s practically a giant phallus waiting to perform the aforementioned act of violence on your gullet just to see the astonishment on your terrified and possibly, grotesque visage. The throwaway bragging nature of the chorus is repeated with such arrogance and delight, it becomes something you find yourself muttering whilst sitting in your work cubicle, fuming with unrestrained hatred. When it finally reaches the breakdown, the sound lurches like a bulimic after half a water biscuit, spewing filthy, guttural stoner-punk with vibrant force. The chant of “ULTIMATE POWER! MAXIMUM LIFE!” sounds like something cribbed from a Hatebreed song, performed by a man who has no love for his voicebox, yet screams it raw with such passion it’s hard not to form your sullen features into a broad smile. It’s an absolute beast of a track, and one of, if not, the best 3 minutes of scathing punk rock I’ve heard this year.
There’s no respite here, and why should there be quite frankly. This is punk fed through a filter of trash. ‘I’ve Got Guestlist To Rory O’Hara’s Suicide’ implores the listener to “enjoy your fucking misery” whilst it falls over itself to reach the finish line in a metal-laced fury of Hot Snakes-style punk rock urgency.
Next is a song apparently about ‘punching gypsies’ and is perhaps one of the more diverse tracks on this self-titled effort. ‘Get Off My Ghost Train’ has an almost relaxed (if that’s at all possible) feeling as it begins, rolling nicely into a choppy guitar line that dips and falls like an unsteady rollercoaster. When Hudson’s vocals hit the fan however and the chorus shout of “HEY! HEY! WE’RE NOT HERE FOR THE WEEKEND! HEY HEY WE’RE JUST HERE FOR THE NIGHT!” you know that they’ve done it again – it’s yet another dumb, senseless lyrical soundbite that you’ll find yourself screaming to high heaven when you least expect it. The build at 2:40 shudders and rolls with fractured and unrestrained delight, before cutting off abruptly.
The re-recorded ‘Meat Balloon’ increases its relentless speed and stress to perilous levels of scribbled, filthy rock ‘n roll, whilst retaining an even sassier attitude than the one released on 7” months ago. ‘Moonlit Talons’ is a dark rhythmic stop of off-kilter, almost dance-punk, that stutters between clean melodies and scything tension. A clearing of the throat bridges ‘Moonlit Talons’ with ‘The Lighthouse’, another re-recorded track from the band’s early demo sessions. It’s become filthier – the grooves are slick, but at the same time buzz with this unclean hum. The shout of “MACHO!” is yet another hark back to the frat-boy 80’s movie shtick the Leeds 4-piece have adopted and on this jerking, stagger of noise.
The grimy bass drive on closer ‘Den Horn’, the imagery conjured by the lyrics “the beast was made of man and horse!” not to mention the track’s coda; a sludge-filled, dirge of rattling metallic rock that brings to mind Harvey Milk trying to cover a Fu Manchu song. It’s a suitable and punishing end to an album that has been one enormous musical party of lurching, spasmodic punk rock debauchery. Hats off to Pulled Apart By Horses and hats off to this self-titled debut, which is quite frankly, stunning – a gritty, caterwaul of pandemonium spread over 35 minutes – essential, no – VITAL listening.
‘Pulled Apart By Horses’ can be purchased from the Transgressive Records website here.
By Ross Macdonald