Album: Horsegirl – Versions of Modern Performance review

by Philip Moss

A collection of noisy effervescence – but with more careful construction than you may initially realise

It is a massive misunderstanding to think that DIY rock songs get thrown together. As noise this good doesn’t just happen. Of course – time, place, circumstance, luck all have to be added into the mix. And at the heart of Horsegirl’s debut, Versions of a Modern Performance, one very much gets the feeling that, despite still being in their teens, the Chicago band are music obsessives who have captured the love of their varied record collections in this debut set of songs.

Perfectly titled first single, Anti-glory, could be a slogan from 1977, and it is the best of old and new. Its guitars could be taken Sonic Youth’s Goo, and its hazy harmonies and monotone lead vocal lifted from your favourite Chastity Belt record – but Horsegirl don’t are not simply in the business of rehash and reapply.

Experimental interludes – Electrolocation 2 and The Guitar is Dead 3 – give an insight into the rehearsal room, the three piece’s writing process, and a band who, yes, are at the start of their career, but already have a process that works – and a way of constructing their songs that already feels close to concluding with fully realised results. And while there are immediate moments on Versions of a Modern Performance – it is a sprawling record that requires living with, and benefits from repeated plays. The first instant firecracker comes via the effervescent Dirtbag Transformation (Still Dirty), but it is closer, Billy, that hints towards becoming anthemic – its opening riff a wall of driving melody – however, the tangle of double tracked, counter point vocals mean it remains modestly restrained.

Where Horsegirl go next, who knows… but it is sometimes far to easy to concern oneself with progression when listening to debut albums. When, actually, we should just embrace what is in front of us – and enjoy the collection for what it is: in this case, a flipping’ great DIY record.

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