Horse Jumper of Love
Memory looms large on Horse Jumper of Love’s hypnotic sophomore album, ‘So Divine,’ but it remains elusive. Throughout the record, tiny snapshots from the past float to the surface, baring themselves for brief moments before diving back into the ether. Like abstract collages, the Boston-based three-piece’s songs jumble richly detailed scenes and vivid imagery, papering over one moment with the next until each string of seemingly unrelated thoughts coalesces into a breathtaking work of art, one that reveals deep truths about ourselves and our psyches.
“A lot of these songs are about making small things into huge deals,” says guitarist/singer Dimitri Giannopoulos. “They all start with these very specific little memories that, for some reason or another, have stuck in my mind. Memories morph and change over time, though, and they become freighted with all these different meanings. We’re constantly adding to them.”
The same could be said of Horse Jumper of Love’s music. Praised by Stereogum as a “delightfully distorted mess of energy,” the band’s sound is absorbing and urgently hypnotic, with songs that develop at a glacial pace, progressing forward with almost imperceptible momentum to carve deep canyons and valleys through walls of solid rock. Giannopoulos officially launched the group with bassist John Margaris and drummer Jamie Vadala-Doran in 2013, taking their moniker from a Latin phrase that had gotten more than a little lost in translation. The band would spend the next three years refining their studio craft and live show, garnering a devoted following playing DIY gigs around New England as they climbed their way into what Pitchfork described as “the top tier of the Boston house show scene.” In 2016, they released their self-titled debut to rave reviews, with NPR praising the band’s “slow, syrupy rock songs” as “cautiously measured and patiently curious” and Audiotree hailing the “soft spoken, contemplative trio” for their “unique sonic palette and precise compositions.” In 2017, the group released a vinyl and digital re-issue of the album along with a limited edition demo anthology.
‘So Divine’ will mark the band’s first release for Run For Cover Records.
In a long and emotionally exhausting year of being inside (alone, in my case,) I have found myself thinking about mirrors. How to avoid spending too much time in them, most days. Taking inventory of the real, physical self is difficult work, work that I’m not entirely opposed to but work that became immediately more treacherous for me when I had to witness the very real toll that time, modern anxieties, isolation, and boredom were taking on me. It was easier, it seemed, to spiral into a not-so-distant glorious past, to use memory as a tool of both excitement and healing.
But, speaking of excitement, I like to stumble towards a band with no agenda, no purpose, uncovering sound almost on accident. This is how I first heard Wednesday. The band came to me and I don’t remember how, or why. They simply arrived, as if we’d been traveling toward each other our whole lives. I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone soaked into my summer of 2020, and in sound, in spirit, in central concerns and the execution of them, it took me back to an era before the current era, which I’d needed at the time. The past can feel less hellish than the present if we are, sometimes, not fully honest with ourselves.
If you, listening to Wednesday for the first time around or even the second time around, stumble onto this album, I promise you the songs will be what grab you first, beyond any of my foolish high-level emotional theorizing or projections. Every band that loves the pursuit of their craft the way this band does is one to follow, because getting to sit on the sidelines and watch them level up is a real generosity. Twin Plagues is overflowing with hooks, but what most delighted me about the band from the start has taken a leap: they have managed, somehow, to get even better at structuring their noise from one movement of a song to the next. The idea of the “song” itself is flexible in their hands, so much so that each song holds two, or three songs within. This, again, generosity. “Cody’s Only” is a ballad until it begins to threaten a storm of volume, and then, in its final act, it becomes something else altogether. “One More Last One” is a shoegaze-y trip that swells and swells until it overflows, but it doesn’t stop. It keeps offering and offering and offering. I say “noise,” and never in a dismissive sense. Everything has a place, and so much of its place is to serve the true heart of this album, and the true heart of Wednesday’s music, which is allowing cracks through which tenderness can enter and exit as needed. Tenderness that, it seems to me, is always wrestling underneath whatever else might be happening on a song’s surface.
But if I may go back to all of these ideas of nostalgia and our old, tricky, past selves that are, indeed, a part of the house of bricks that make up our present self, what I also hope you, listener, might adore about this album is the exact moment at the start of “The Burned Down Dairy Queen” when Karly sings I was hiding in a room in my mind / and I made me take a look at myself. Because if you, like me, have been avoiding mirrors – both metaphorical and real – this is where the album becomes a lighthouse, echoing bright across the darkness of my otherwise dark and empty chambers. So much of these songs meditate on the past in far less romantic ways than I have found myself meditating on the past, and I was desperate for the recalibration that this album provided. I was desperate for making myself less blurry in my own memories and reckoning with my full, multitudinous self. The self that was once unkind, or less gentle, or less curious than I am now. I needed this album to remind me to embrace the fullness of my unfinished nature, the years I have lived and – with any luck – the years I have to go.
But, even on top of all of this, on top of all the pleasures and the mercies that the sounds on this album might afford. I hope and think, too, that it will remind anyone who listens that we are a collection of many reflections. All of them deserving patience. — Hanif Abdurraqib
They Are Gutting A Body Of Water
Richmond-based indie / shoegaze rock.
The State House | 310 State Street | New Haven, CT
7 PM DOORS | $12 / $15 | All Ages
Accessibility: Staircase to front door. Entry ramp on side of building. All bathrooms ground floor & gender-neutral.
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Tickets for Horse Jumper of Love, Wednesday, & TAGABOW can be booked here.
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