Leeds noisecore foursome compromise their wildness on a streamlined third album
The trouble with making your name off the back of demented screamo meltdowns with titles such as ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ is that anything you do subsequently makes you look like you’ve gone soft. But that’s not the only hurdle facing Pulled Apart By Horses. After two albums of punk-noise destruction, they find themselves happy to occasionally play gigantic stages supporting the likes of Biffy Clyro or Kaiser Chiefs, but up there, they’re perhaps feeling slightly awkward about the caterwauling mayhem they bring with them.
On third album ‘Blood’, the Leeds foursome attempt to crack this conundrum. For the first time ever, they paused their endless tour and hunkered down for 2013 to create, create, create. A day recording with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow at the production controls came to nothing but, resettled in Greenmount Studios in the unlovely Leeds neighbourhood of Armley, they scratched out a refined sound – a slacker squall spiked with demented imagery, best exhibited on ‘Lizard Baby’: loosely, the birth of the royal baby as scripted by David Icke, set to a glorious racket that recalls the Novoselic/Grohl rhythm section at maximum churn.
Premeditation throws up some positives. The opening ‘Hot Squash’ is a Queens Of The Stone Age-ish grind that pulls of some impressive time-signature trickery. ‘Medium Rare’ is limber Franz funk that slaps on a surprisingly meaty chorus. And ‘Grim Deal’ (complete with neat alt-rock pun) finds frontman Tom Hudson deploying lyrics about throwing faeces with brio that you only realise you’re singing along to once you’ve regaled the entire top deck of the bus.
Sadly, the promise of desert-rock heaviness is, if anything, underplayed. It might be light on tune, but a late-album jolt of Nick Oliveri-style bad vibes titled ‘Bag Of Snakes’, written by drummer Lee Vincet, feels exceedingly welcome. Meanwhile, in quashing the spontaneity, Pulled Apart By Horses may have stifled some of their playfulness, the dreary ‘Hello Men’ the most notable misfire. ‘Blood’ doesn’t feel bold enough. Neither a bid for the stadiums nor brute-rock toilet venues, it suggests PABH are no closer to solving their essential conundrum. Doubtless they’ll work it out in the pit, but it’s hard to shake the feeling they could do so much more.