‘The Haze’, the band’s fourth studio album, is the result of Leeds-based Pulled Apart By Horses refocusing and rekindling their musical passions and shared band chemistry. Shutting themselves off from the prominence of the information age, the band moved into a secluded Welsh cottage to demo new material (to escape the social “haze”, it would seem).
Following founding member/drummer Lee Vincent’s abrupt departure in early 2015, the band called upon Tommy Davidson, formerly of Leeds-locals These Monsters. They enlist Ross Orton as producer, after confessing that they made a conscious effort to channel his style on 2014’s ‘Blood’. Orton is known for handling Arctic Monkeys’ 2013 record ‘AM’, as well as ‘Undertow’, the latest from Drenge.
With a fresh skin-beater and an established producer on board, the band’s fourth studio album, on paper, seems to show promise. Well, you know what? It might just be their best yet.
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It’s important to brush over the band’s humble beginnings. Their self-titled debut dropped in 2010, with the band gaining immense popularity for their visceral energy, mirrored in their blistering live performances. 2012’s ‘Tough Love’ saw the band knuckle down to get a grasp on the full scale of the writing process, after all, they apparently never believed they’d be doing this as a genuine career. 2014’s ‘Blood’ saw a departure from the band’s lo-fi hardcore punk aesthetic for more tighter production, and streamlined instrumentation.
‘The Haze’ is therefore a defiant mix of the band’s past three records. It’s another high-energy affair, most comparable to their debut and ‘Blood’. The band decide not to ditch the polished production from ‘Blood’, yet here it feels meatier, more beefed-up. It’s a genuinely fun listen from beginning to end, which is already an improvement on its predecessor, which had considerable dips and troughs throughout its runtime.
The title track opens the album, and boy is it a corker. “I woke up in the haze again” vocalist Tom Hudson spits off, before launching into the balls-to-the-wall groove. It rivals ‘Hot Squash’, the opener from ‘Blood’ which quickly became a fan-favourite and the tune used to open every live show from then on. ‘Hotel Motivation’ possesses the debut’s primitive feel, with its punky aesthetic and aggressive vocal style.
Despite the strong start, there are a couple of duds mid-tracklist, namely ‘Neighbourhood Witch’ & ‘Flash Lads’. Both cuts do lack a bit of unique personality, but keep in tone of the overall record. Undeterred by this small hiccup, sandwiched in amongst them is album highlight ‘Lamping’, a cut laden with delicious fuzzed-out grooves and Beatles-esque vocal harmonies, with tandem drum and bass play from Lee & Davidson forming the track’s dynamic backbone.
The quality doesn’t dwindle moving towards the back end of the record. The multi-layered guitar lines of ‘Moonbather’ keeps the listener on their toes, whilst snippy two-minute ‘Brass Castles’ is a rhythmical sludge-fest. In ‘What’s Up Dude’, the band rip into grooves that could easily show up on a Queens of the Stone Age record.
Penultimate cut ‘My Evil Twin’ jolts back and forth with its sinister Nirvana-esque riff refrain, whilst a strong psych flavour is injected into closing cut ‘Dumb Fun’, opening like a quintessential Black Angels track. Towards the final act, the band disregard all things quiet and just jam, brewing up a whirlwind of distortion and thus, bringing the album to a satisfying, adrenaline-fuelled close.
It will come down to personal preference as to which of their records fans will prefer, like or dislike. ‘The Haze’ is undoubtedly a result of musicians regrouping, refocusing and playing to their strengths to put out an album that caters for die-hard fans, and admiration from fresher audiences.
One thing is for sure, these tunes are going to be damn fun at live shows.
‘The Haze’ is out on March 17 via Caroline International.