There was a time when Pulled Apart By Horses were leading the charge of weirdo rock music in the UK. Their 2010 self-titled debut was an in-your-face, angular riff storm reinforced by oddball lyrics. Gradually, they became a smoother act, with 2014's 'Blood' displaying a more nuanced stoner rock sound, however they managed to maintain their quirkiness with hypnotic songwriting and a spellbinding atmosphere. Here we have their latest record 'The Haze' which sees them switching things up yet again.
The title track kicks this record off to announce a very different Pulled Apart By Horses with a much more indie-rock sound than what's proceeded, made up of breezy, summery guitars that still pack a punch with the pedal-to-the-metal speed they're going at. 'The Big What If' has more burliness and stomp to it, with the guitars being that little bit more firm, but it carries the baton from the previous song.
'Lamping' is the most relaxing song the band have ever done. It might have some firm, muscular riffs here and there, but a lot of this song feels like it's lying down in the park with the dreamy, psychedelic vocals and guitars gazing up into the sky. It's a surprising direction for the band, even on this album, but they do great job of it.
This is a great little indie rock record so far. The spirited guitars and carefree vocals make for a good time. However, there is something missing. Pulled Apart By Horses seem to have lost a good amount of their freaky edge with 'The Haze' and there's very little setting them apart from other bands of this ilk. It isn't necessarily that this is their least aggressive record to date, as 'Blood' was the band's least aggressive prior to this, but the difference is where they'd abandoned some old elements with 'Blood' they replaced them with aspects to keep it distinctly Pulled Apart By Horses. With 'The Haze' the same can't be said unfortunately.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially when a good lot of this record is done really well, for what it is. It's just that Pulled Apart By Horses don't feel like the one-of-a-kind band they used to be and not every song on here is a winner either. 'What's Up Dude?' just drags and feels dated as hell. Its stop-start fuzzy riffs and 'ah-ha-ha' vocal, come across as tired, as much as they want to make out they're spry. 'Brass Castles' is less than two minutes long, but it feels like it goes on for longer, with more rock tropes, like sting bends, played with little conviction making them feel more like cliques.
Luckily 'Dumb Fun' sends this thing out on a high with delay tinged guitars, which make the song feel quite sharp and then there's the bouncing energy of the track which goes toe-to-toe with all the best songs on this record.
'The Haze' is a good record, it's just that it's a good record that you've heard been done plenty of times before. If you've loved Pulled Apart By Horses' for their individuality, this may disappoint you. If you vastly prefer the band's days of hyperactive, stabby riffs to the subtlety of 'Blood', you're probably not going to like this. With that being said however, if you're an indie-rock fan, if you're a fan of easy-going guitar music in general, then definitely give this a listen whether you're new to the band or a long-time fan.