Original Photo by Cheryl Dunn.
HORSEGIRL - VERSIONS OF MODERN PERFORMANCE
ALBUM REVIEW BY CARLA CAMILLERI
MATADOR RECORDS 2022
It is no revelation that music brings people together. Whether through fandom, research, live gigs or conversations, music from the immediate, near or distant past has the power to create unique connections between people and point the arrow towards music of the future.
When Nora Cheng and Penelope Lowenstein met in high school, they made this unique connection. Sonic Youth, amongst other jangly indie rock bands from the 80’s and 90’s, were the catalyst for a deep friendship and eventually their band, Horsegirl. After being joined by Gigi Reece, who they met in the Chicago indie music scene, the trio began writing and playing together. They went on to record and self-release a critically acclaimed single and EP (Ballroom Dance Scene et cetera (best of Horsegirl)), highlighting that their appreciation of this music didn’t simply end at admiration, but manifested into a well-crafted sonic pastiche.
Versions of Modern Performance is their debut LP released via Matador Records. The first song alone is a comforting spoonful of homemade soup, with their favourite indie bands’ influence peeking through and filling the space with familiar sounds and smells. Working with producer John Agnello (The Breeders, Dinosaur Jr.) was a match made in heaven. His veteran experience of the genre paired with their fresh perspective resulted in twelve songs that wave to a bygone age, when flexible, wrist-driven guitar strums, catchy, singable melodies and simple baselines were all the rage.
Some of these songs instantly hook onto the ears with their catchiness and addictive nostalgia. However, to pull off this type of indie pop rock is no easy feat, and underneath the surface-level simplicity are layers that really display Horsegirl’s potential and musicianship. ‘Anti Glory’ is a perfect example of this, each instrument dancing with one another, each element locking into the beat like a jigsaw puzzle. The chorus’ rock-disco command, “Dance”, reminds us not to take it all too seriously (much in their punk-rock nature). However, these tongue-and-cheek moments are offset by more ambient, droney moments on the album (‘Bog Bog 1’) which add another depth to the trio’s sound bank.
Versions of Modern Performance is an impressive debut by Horsegirl, who after all, are still at the very beginning of their musical voyage. The trio’s ability to pull from their appreciation of music from the past without sounding dated is notable, and a signal to even more brilliant music on the horizon.
You can purchase Horsegirl's Versions Of Modern Performance here via the Flying Nun Record Shop.