[sic] Magazine

Horsebeach – II

See. Manchester can do summery. It’s just that, weather and music-wise, Mancunian summers tend only to be a bit less miserable than the rest of the time. Horsebeach is Stockport lad Ryan Kennedy and his 2014 debut was a genuine riposte to the dreamy guitar-pop that dominates Brooklyn’s best BBQs. The S/T release undoubtedly had melancholy charm woven though its every shuffling melody. Its economically titled successor has the tunes though … and one massive one in particular, for the super-chill “Dana”is a heavy-hearted jam with pillowy keys and some of the most laid-back guitar you’ll ever hear, but it’s the track’s longing chorus about an “oversize sweater” that’s an absolute show-stealer, confirming Kennedy as a multi-instrumentalist on the rise.

II is an album on which Kennedy’s growing confidence is plain to hear throughout. “Andy”, for example, is an expectedly hazy exercise in 80s revivalism: the muted nostalgia of Real Estate and Wild Nothing by way of the pronounced twangs of New Order, The Cure and The Smiths, but so too does it run with warm cymbal splashes and the soft caresses of Balearic synth. Side B’s nerdy instrumental opener, “Midnight Part 2”, casts Kennedy hunched over his electronics conjuring more humid micro-melodies where there nevertheless always remains the threat of a shower. The lightweight jangles and languid dither of “Let You Down” come weighted with a pretty despondent vocal as dutifully apt as the track’s rueful title would suggest. At the other end of the emotional spectrum, the blissfully heart-on-sleeve “It’s Alright” hand-claps its way to the sun-kissed shores of soft-rock courtesy in part of Beth de Cent‘s swoonsome vocal harmonies, while the surprising “Disappear” embraces a subtle swirl of organ keys and lightly stoned kraut repeats that’ll make you wonder if you really heard them at all.

It’s easy with an outfit like Horsebeach to wish for more. More perhaps in the way of memorable hooks. A standout solo on which to hang your hat. A chorus or two even that’ll lodge in your brain all month long, but the same can be levelled at any number of similar bands. The simple truth is that they and Horsebeach aren’t that kind of crowd-pleaser. Horsebeach isn’t Brighton Beach. It’s an uninterrupted stretch of silver sands on which nary a soul is to be seen and where membership feels reassuringly exclusive.

Best track: “Dana”

~II is released 25th September 2015 via Alone Together.~