Homeshake – ‘Horsie’ album review: background music for the vibes

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Homeshake – Horsie

THE SKINNY: The wine bars of East London are about to go crazy over this album. They’re going to buy it on vinyl and display it on shelves next to the bottles and take a photo for Instagram: “Now spinning: Horsie. The new one from Homeshake sounds so good with a chilled glass in the sun.”

They won’t be wrong. Horsie will sound incredibly good in the sunshine, playing off a speaker as friends sit around and chat. It’s the perfect album for a vibey background to some sweet summer day. But really, that’s a polite way to say it’s essentially glorified background music.

I guess it all depends on what the purpose of lo-fi or bedroom pop music is. If it’s meant to create a kind of atmosphere or simply paint the background a nicer shade, then Horsie does that. The guitars are stunning, weaving between bigger moments into seductive slow-jam grooves. The drums are just loud enough to deliver a clear and hooky groove to take listeners through the record. Homeshake’s voice feels tailor-made for this kind of music, being sweet and pleasingly inoffensive.

Alas, then mix is a tepid one. As he sings over the top of his interesting and dynamic instrumentals, it’s his hushing voice that somehow pushes it into background music. The lyrics aren’t strong enough or impactful enough to grab any attention. The words seem to merge and disappear, without much of an impact, once again making it a perfect album to talk over.

However, there are some moments that cut through. ‘Ravioli’ is an incredibly strong start and feels like the most realised and thorough song on the album. The instrumental has a clear Tame Impala edge that breaks out of the small-scale bedroom sound into something more captivating, while his vocals dance over the top. 

‘Simple’ is another major standout. Immediately, the track has a Lynchian quality with a suspenseful, moody synth drone and then bigger rock guitars that keep you there. It’s cinematic on a bigger scale, and it feels like a sign of what Homeshake could have done if he’d only elevated the rest of the record to that level.

But is that the desired purpose of the album? Does Homeshake want listeners to sit down, shut up and pay attention to every little detail? Or maybe Horsie succeeding at being exactly what it’s intended to be: a great soundtrack for beautiful memories, whether that be with friends, in the intimacy of bedrooms or played out in a natural wine bar that promises strong vibes and turns to Homeshake to deliver them.

For fans of: A pet-nat, a chilled red or a skin-contact chenin blanc.

A comment from a bartender: “Yeah, so an orange wine is like the lovechild between white and red wine. It’s white wine grapes handled like a red, so you get this lovely, juicy finish. Oh, this? This is the new Homeshake record.”

Horsie track by track

Release date: June 28th | Producer: Homeshake | Label: SHHOAMKEE

‘Ravioli’: Horsie begins twinkling with the most realised song on the album. The synthy bass adds a Tame Impala edge while Homeshake’s vocals play around over the top of the record’s most interesting instrumental. It’s short but very sweet. [4/5]

‘Horsie’: The guitars on this track are enjoyable, with a solid beat moving you through it with a catchy pace. But at four minutes long, the song doesn’t go very far, so it drops into background noise territory. [3/5]

‘Dinner Plate’: Even when switching up the energy, Horsie remains cohesive with the same core sounds guiding listeners through. When that sound is this delicious guitar, it’s beautiful. This song is at its best in the final moments when the singing stops and the guitar shreds instead. [3/5]

‘Blunt Talk’: Another vibe alteration brings the energy back up for this hazy, heavier track, led with big drums and vocal effects. It’s a necessary dose of difference that the record benefits from. [3/5]

‘On A Roll’: Returning to gentle guitars and soft, slow vocals, this track is nice enough but once again is better when the singing stops and the music speaks alone. [2.5/5]

‘Smiling’: A pattern emerges throughout the record that Homeshake’s lyrics become almost distracting by somehow being utterly uninteresting. They don’t capture attention or captivate intrigue, so sometimes it feels like they’re just in the way. [2.5/5]

‘Nothing 2 See’: The vocals get more interesting here as the song gains a catchier lyrical hook that feels more embedded in the music than sat over the top of it. The bigger drums also make a comeback to recapture focus from the backing music realm. [3/5]

‘Simple’: This track launches in all Lynchian and glorious. The opening and enduring synth note feels so Twin Peaks-y that it instantly grabs you and keeps you in a state of suspense. Paired with more rock guitars and a moody vocal line, this is the album’s crowning jewel. [4/5]

‘Easier Now’: If you zone out for even a second, songs like this are totally lost. They pass you by and blend into the next without much fanfare. If that’s what you’re after, this is great. But if you like even your lo-fi to be a little more hooky, it’s a flop. [2.5/5]

‘Believe’: The same goes for this one. I had to actively restart this track a few times over as I kept losing my focus elsewhere. When you pay attention, it’s a nice enough number but not one of the strongest. [2.5/5]

‘Empty Lot’: The drums are back to grab you, and the guitar gets hookier again, thank god. It does still feel like a lot of the album is undone or could have been elevated further, though, as this track has the energy of a draft until the lovely instrumental outro. [2.5/5]

‘Ice Tea’: I was hoping for a return to a bigger, more cinematic sound. But Horsie ends with more of the same. [2.5/5]

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