Pulled Apart By Horses have always been a thrillingly chaotic live band, but on their self-titled debut album, they often struggled to walk the fine line between twisted hardcore genius and the musical equivalent of a ‘death pint’ (i.e. great ideas mixed together in a muddled, slapdash way).
Nevertheless, the promise was definitely there, and on Tough Love they’ve served up a more convincing, confident record, without sacrificing the raw edge that made them so appealing in the first place. Most notably, they now boast great riffs by the bucketload; the kind of filthy, thunderous riffs of which the old guard of the early 90s (Soundgarden, Helmet, even RATM) would surely approve.
For the most part, Tough Love does a fine job of capturing the unhinged energy of the band’s live shows. Those aforementioned razor-sharp riffs, the propulsive drumming, and vocalist Tom Hudson’s signature screech will all sound imposing enough on your stereo, but they’ll no doubt serve even better as a soundtrack to a throbbing mass of sweaty bodies, roaring themselves horse as they tumble over monitors, microphone cords and each other.
It’s not one great big hardcore free-for-all, though. They manage to shift down a gear for the gloriously QOTSA-esque chugging rhythms of Epic Myths, and Tom even manages to sing pretty convincingly on Give Me A Reason. The musical teeth are never far away, though, and it’s testament to the band’s confidence that they can rein themselves in from time to time and still sound unmistakeably like Pulled Apart By Horses.
The first great British rock record of 2012? Quite possibly, but – as you’ve probably gathered by now – it’s in the live setting where PABH truly shine. They’ll be touring the UK in mid-February; check www.pulledapartbyhorses.com for details.