The more hopeful ‘sunrise’ to 2018’s critically acclaimed Slow Sundown, Horse finds Tallinn, Estonia’s Holy Motors acknowledging the Americana and rockabilly strands of their musical DNA without sacrificing any of the otherworldly mystique that keeps them from neatly conforming to the shoegaze and dreampop labels often applied to their music. From the album’s opening moments, songs like “Country Church,” with its major key and classic rhythm and blues guitarline, and “Midnight Cowboy,” which sounds like a lost Buddy Holly 45 played at 33 rpm, make it clear that Horse — even if it may not accomplish the impossible task of demystifying this band of ex-Soviet cowboys — will at least show you that there’s more to them than the near-impenetrable darkness of their work to date may suggest.
While tracks like “Trouble” and “Endless Night” gravitate towards the ethereal production and existential subject matter of prior releases, repeat listens will reveal the same complex compositions and humanity that are much more a hallmark of Horse’s eight songs. As a whole, Horse stands as a warmer, more human counterpoint to 2018’s celestial Slow Sundown. As to which of the two entries better approximates Holy Motors’ natural set point, only time will tell.
1. Country Church
2. Endless Night
3. Midnight Cowboy
4. Road Stars
6. Come On, Slowly
8. Life Valley (So Many Miles Away)