With their sophomore album Tough Love being released next week on January the 23rd we wrapped our beautiful little, or in my case, rather large ears around it. The album follows up the 2010 self titled effort and was crafted with the help of producer Gil Norton who's worked with the likes of Foo Fighters and the Pixies. That's a guy who knows what he's doing! After touring relentlessly since their inception, Pulled Apart By Horses have risen to the task of producing a second album that's both raw and powerful, the very same reason we loved them so much in the first place. Yet saying that it's a more honed, rounded sound. It's focused, and that's what makes it great. Things are definitely looking bright for these four boys from Leeds.
Round One. Ding, ding. Album opener "V.E.N.O.M" is the perfect introduction to the brand new album from Pulled Apart By Horses and chances are if you're in the UK you'll have heard this getting radio play and love it enough to call your own, maybe even make it breakfast the morning after. Within a second, the riff is in full flow and the drums thump until the initial verse kicks in and Tom's hoarse vocals begin to seep through the woodwork, reminding you of why you hit play in the first place. James' lead guitar line mirrors the vocal before the infectious sing (or shout, you choose) along chorus kicks in and I defy you not to scream "V.E.N.O.M" at passers by while you listen to this. Seriously. Kind of reminds me of their fellow Leeds friends, Hawk Eyes, and their tune "Kerosene" (although they were Chicken Hawk back then if you go to dig it out. RIFF). A slow bridge and some whirring before a big finish and their album opener is done. What they've managed to create from the very off is an anthemic sound that is sure to see them step up their game in a live setting. Round one is over and my nose is already bloody.
The tongue in cheek lyrics that we came to love on their self titled debut on tracks like "Yeah Buddy" and "I Punched A Lion in The Throat" are still ever so prominent on album numero 2. "Wolf Hand" opens up with the line "when I was a kid I was a dick but nothing changes. Through myself around 'til I was sick, but nothing changes." Chugging along to the palm muted guitar riff before another simple yet effective chorus kicks in. What I find on this album just two tracks in is the musical growth from the band. The debut was a great, great album and we even put it in our top 25 albums of 2010 because we loved it so much. This album is even better. 1 min and 30 seconds in Tom's trademark scream pairs up with a another delectable fret fiddle from James before stepping up to the edge of a cliff and diving straight off headfirst a la Lee Spielman into a pit full of noise that will shake your nuts into a frenzy (take that how you will). I remember watching the Foo Fighters documentary last year and Dave talks about when they were starting to fill larger venues and he wanted to create a song that was timed so the whole crowd could jump as one. Pulled have managed to create this vibe with the dying minute of "Wolf Hand". Kudos, lads.
Bass heavy tracks like "Back To The Fuck Yeah" on their debut are prominent but more well crafted on LP number 2 as "Shake Off The Curse" and "Give Me A Reason" demonstrate. As Rob's bass lines tempt you up a dimly lit alley for the rest of the band to assault your ears with a well practiced arsenal of riff and thump. Ouch. Where as on their S/T tracks like "I've Got Guestlist To Rory O'Hara's Suicide" would end suddenly and without notice, which was fine, here the band toy a little more. The tease us with an extra hook lathered bridge and verse, an extra breakdown here and there. It's like they're taking us out for a date but instead of taking us home they just keep pouring another glass of wine. I like it. "Shake Off the Curse" is a prime example of this, think Simon Neil circa Blackened Sky in the ramblings camp. crossed with the riffy vibe of some Kyuss jams and you'll get a little close to the sound these guys have developed with this album.
"Epic Myth" shows off some lungs in the highly infectious chorus as the tale progresses from being a haunted house with "secret rooms no-one knew about" to a rip-roaring "YOU'LL NEVER LEAEAEAEAVE" that resonates around your noggin for days at a time. And, while tales of haunted houses and being cheeky is all well and good, it would appear some of the lyrics take a more personal direction between the band members themselves. "Bromance Ain't Dead" is self explanatory by the name surely? Where as on the other side of the spectrum you have "Give Me A Reason", a song which seems like it's a little more scathing from Tom and has no specific target. I could be wrong but hey, it's nice to see these guys be a little more serious amongst all the tom foolery. The riffs they moulded on their debut were big, but on LP 2 some sound a little Manchester Orchestra like. Their beautiful in simplicity yet, with all the aggression it's played with, they manage raise a few hairs on the back of your neck and make you think twice about the volume button for fear of what's to come.
Unlike the debut albums stoner rock, 7 minute album closer and jam session, "Den Horn", Tough Love's closer goes by the name of "Everything Dipped In Gold". Starting with some eerie like guitar feedback it moves forward swiftly when Rob puts in a mournful bass line making you look over your shoulder to check nothing is there. It's not a free for all of stoner goodness like "Den Horn" instead, it's a neatly wrapped bow around a belated Christmas gift from a loved one. This album is a huge step forward for the band and from start to finish you'll be smashing things around you and wailing nonsensical lyrics about haunted homes and other things out of this world in between. All of it is laced in with bouts of love for one another and all in all it's matured. A little!It's a stellar album from track 1 righ through to 11.
As Sum 41 once named an album All Killer No Filler, (they definitely did say that, right?) Pulled Apart By Horses achieve greatness by the bucket load. Leeds' rampant rabbits have grown, they've become better musicians, tighter, faster, heavier. What's not to love about this album? With more than a few hat tips to the likes of Nirvana, Kyuss and even Sabbath in areas, Tough Love is an album that you need to be prepared for, pop on a safety helmet before hitting play otherwise this album will knock you out in round one.
This battle was never mine to be won, nor yours. By round 11 you feel like you've been slapped around by a hyper active child on steroids wielding bigger guns than they've previously had. Bigger guns than you expected. With the band having supported the likes of Biffy Clyro, Deftones and Muse in the past few years, the release of this album is not only going to propel them further up the ranks of the live arena, but flat out up through the ranks of awesome! Well done to Tom, Lee, James and Rob, this album will 110% shake your socks off and get you singing along in the process. They've raised the bar not just for themselves with this album, but others as well. If you'd heard someone say that UK guitar music is dying or even that it's dead, they lied. Think again.