Typically when bands take a hiatus, it can have a damaging effect on both the band and their fanbase alike. Much like a train falling off the tracks, sometimes these events can have severe consequences on a band’s ability to come back, regroup, and remain focused on putting out great music for the right reasons. Luckily, An Horse are one of those bands whose hiatus worked well in their favor, as they sound refreshed and reenergized with a collection of songs made directly for their longtime fans. Modern Air captures the earlier magic of their first two albums, while still coming up with a few new tricks along the way to acquire some new fans along the way in their rebirth.
Kicking off the set with their first single in over six years, “This Is a Song” lets lead vocalist/guitarist Kate Cooper and drummer Damon Cox quickly remind their fans why they fell in love with the duo in the first place. Filled with fuzzy guitars, breakneck beats, and sing-a-long moments, it would be hard to picture a better choice of a song to reintroduce themselves back in the indie rock scene.
“Live Well” follows this track with a great build-up to the chorus of, “Live well, live well/Live well, live well my friends/I forgot to tell you how much I love and need you.” In a way, An Horse are speaking directly to their fans for bearing with them during their hiatus. The track itself rocks with the same type of confident bravado as bands such as The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Metric.
“Started a Fire” finds An Horse experimenting with a near dream-pop moment in their discography. The breathy and atmospherically beautiful song is an early standout on the memorable LP. The closing notes find Cooper at her most anthemic when she sings, “You got to let go of everything/You got to let go of it all/You’ve got to forget everything/You’ve got to forget it all.” Whether or not she is reflectively speaking to herself or trying to motivate others to guide themselves through their struggles, it all comes across as pretty damn powerful.
Other tracks such as “Bob Ross (Be The Water)” find An Horse experimenting with new and exciting sounds and samples to create a song more in the realm of a band like Beach House. The comparison becomes even more apparent as the track unfolds with Cooper’s delicate vocals and more electronic-type beats, courtesy of Cox. The blanket of dream pop quickly folds away into the punk sneer of “Breakfast.” The wide range of styles shown by An Horse is quite impressive, as they showcase a much more extensive repertoire of what longtime fans have grown accustomed to.
“Ship of Fools,” the second single from the set, reminded me of the work of some of their more recent touring pals in Silversun Pickups with a little bit of the Joy Formidable thrown into the mix. It’s a pretty damn good song just on its merit, yet it feels familiar much in the same way as throwing on an album from the 90’s that brings tons of good vibes surrounding it.
Overall, I came away feeling impressed and wanted more from this band that demands to be taken seriously on this expansive record. With eleven songs clocking in at just under 40 minutes, the band have made a filler-free album that could very well end up on my year-end list of favorites. An Horse may not be a household name yet, but I would urge everyone to give this band a serious listen as they have crafted a record worthy of many repeat spins.