This review was originally published at Listen Before You Buy.
I think it is very good practice for music writers to get outside their genre of expertise, their niche of comfort on occasion. I think they can get so caught up in their own favorite genre of music that perhaps they forget that entire universes of other sounds and emotions are being generated, and with quite a bit of talent at that. So that’s why this little suburban raised white girl who usually listens to folk music is writing about British punkers-sometimes-even-screamers Pulled Apart By Horses. You see, I also wrote for another blog called Musical Mathematics and the posts/statuses/cries of delight by the UK punk-metal-rock loving guys who run that publication over this release were too overwhelming for me to completely ignore. I had to see what all the fuss about their latest record “Tough Love” was really about.
Hailing from Leeds in Britian, the band is composed of four members and are often dubbed “post-hardcore” which pretty much just means still hardcore and the term hardcore was invented so long ago that music bloggers got tired of using it and tried to make it sound newer again. This is their second album and it was produced by Gil Norton, the same man who produced the Foo Fighters and The Pixies, which explains the overall loud, clean sound on some songs and fuzzy woozy rock on others.
I imagine that the process of actually pulling someone apart by horses was a torture device, bent on ensuring a slow and painful death. Elements of the intensity of this experience exist in their music, and they often write about pain and with anger, but the experience of listening to this band is actually extremely enjoyable. Starting off with the fuzzed- out track ‘V.E.N.O.M’, the leaps between pace and shout-sung spelled out chorus lead into the rest of this rip-roaring record. Often when I listen to music of this caliber, I feel like the anger and intensity in the songs is directed at me, as if I the listener somehow joined in the grand conspiracy against the band, but I will say as a compliment to PABH that I always feel like I am on their side when I listen to their music. The pure, unabashed passion in this record immediately won me over to empathize with their complaints, experiences and plights.
One of the strongest features of their songs is the way that the pace changes several times within the span of one song. This works especially well on ‘Wolf Hand’ which alternates from a relatively slow and talk-sung verse to an anthem-like chorus backed by heavy guitars and then later melts into a complete sound free-for-all.
I won’t try to tell you this record isn’t heavy, it certainly is. But it is heavy with a purpose, it has an artistic direction and contains content both lyrically and musically that progresses outside the realm of just metal or just punk. I would even call it thoughtful at times, like on ‘Night Of The Living (I’m Scared Of People)’ in which they poke fun at the idea of zombies by contrasting them to the actual mayhem that living humans can create too. Speaking of song titles that are jokes, ‘Bromance Ain’t Dead’ always makes me giggle, although the song by no means makes me giggle, more it just makes me bang my head back and forth and pretend to be a hardcore twenty-something British guy.
I think my favorite track might be the album closer ‘Everything Dipped In Gold’, which features echoey spaced out guitars in parts that are reminiscent of The War On Drugs, along with the same passionate choruses and other intense guitars that mark the rest of the record. Certainly check “Tough Love” out if you listen to alternative/punk/metal-/rock/post-hardcore… I bet you will love it. Also check it out if you realize that the last ten albums you bought probably all fall into the same genre and you want to expose yourself to other types of music. I was pleasantly surprised how much I admired the band for this record and how much I enjoyed listening to it.
No stream available for this album, but you can buy it here