Rarely on ‘Girl With Fish’ do Feeble Little Horse sound like they know what they’re going to do next. The Pittsburgh four-piece band had a rule during the creative process that no pre-written ideas were allowed — they had to come up with everything in the studio, together. You hear the glee of improvisation all through ‘Girl With Fish’, their second record; riffs sound like they’re tumbling out of the guitar and being wrangled into shape.
The band marry touches of noise rock and DIY-minded pop, and the different sensibilities clash in interesting ways. One of the album’s best songs is its opener, ‘Freak’. It’s a playful tune with a rock swagger which wouldn’t be out of place coming from Momma, but there’s an insistent fuzziness which keep it feeling a little grubby and off-kilter. ’Heaven’, meanwhile, gives way to a glitchy electronic interlude.
Similarly, with its repetitive chorus and four-on-the-floor beats, ‘Pocket’ is almost poppy, but the homespun quality of vocalist Lydia Slocum’s melodies make it feel charmingly ramshackle instead. These conflicts feel partly driven by resources and partly by choice, keeping the songs in tune with a level of unpredictability.
Slocum writes in fragmented lines, which morph into portraits of exhaustion and disillusionment; often, her lyrics get pretty dark. “I can’t carry the weight of feeling stained,” she sings on ‘Steamroller’; “Dead dog, passenger locked / It’s too hot,” on ‘Sweet.’ Yet the album’s wilful weirdness lends it some levity, making lyrics seem absurdist even when they are decidedly straightforward. It’s another tension that helps to define ‘Girl With Fish’ — a sense that nothing holds so much weight that it can’t be taken elsewhere in the next moment.
While that idea perhaps keeps these songs from being as memorable as they could be, it does occasionally work, shaping the album into a really nice cut of slacker-noise. The band claim they intended to break up after their 2021 debut ‘Hayday’, but decided they were having too much fun to quit; that’s what you hear on ‘Girl With Fish’, and it makes for a sense of effortless yet meaningful creativity.
- Release date: June 9
- Record label: Saddle Creek
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