Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Album Review: Horsegirl - Versions of Modern Performance

Versions of Modern Performance
**and1/2 out of *****

The debut full length effort from the Chicago based trio Horsegirl works up dreamy noise pop over the course of twelve short offerings but never fully locks in with memorable tunes. Versions of Modern Performance is a first effort from this young band that is still growing and has room for improvement around a strong base. 

The trio, Penelope Lowenstein (guitar, vocals), Nora Cheng (guitar, vocals), and Gigi Reece (drums) worked with John Agnello (Kurt Vile, The Breeders, Dinosaur Jr.) at Electrical Audio to craft their debut. From the first notes of album opener "Anti-glory" the confident hazy guitar rock rolls out.  

Production and sonics are expertly manipulated as the group twist and turn through vibrating efforts like "Option 8" and the cinematic "Live and Ski" which uses pretty noise pop and a tension that threatens to break out, but like the album as a whole, never does. The trio has their tone down, guitar/bass/drums all ring out through speakers, but the songs as a whole rarely coalesce with vocals buried under the instruments and lyrics, when they can be understood, that aren't saying a lot that needs to be heard.   

The hypnotic dream/noise of "Dirtbag Transformation (Still Dirty)" has the best vocals (the outro ooh's) while strong sounding "Homage to Birdnoculars" only comes alive with birdcalls. "World of Pots and Pans" has a great fuzzy aura and a sweet swinging vibe, but lines like "When Emma sweeps the floor it turns more grey" and "While Emma eggs her hеad, she looks the same", it might be better just to float into the soothing guitar rock and leave the words/singing alone.

The group drops in a few instrumental breaks that add some run time and floating feeling, such as the swirling "Electrolocation 2" the plinking piano on "The Guitar Is Dead 3" and "Bog Bog #1" which is the best of the bunch with reverberating guitar wobbling from speakers. 

The finale of "Billy" is the band at it's current peak with layers of guitars and drums interweaving while the spoken word vocals layer on top of each other as well, before dropping away to a an exhilarating conclusion. Overall the band seems as if they could care less about vocals, songwriting and lyrics and just luxuriates in the pretty noise sound, which is just fine for a debut as Horsegirl's Versions of Modern Performance hits it's best moments when the two guitars and drums speak to each other.
Support the band, buy the album, peep some video below:

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