An Horse

Rearrange Beds

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An Horse's tuneful, classically crunchy two-person indie rock fits in well alongside engagingly personable contemporaries like Wye Oak, Mates of State, and their sometime tourmates Tegan and Sara (who were largely responsible for introducing the band to American audiences), but it also owes a great deal to the meatier old-guard indie duos of the 1990s, groups like the Spinanes, Quasi, and Royal Trux. Like most if not all of these acts, An Horse derive a certain scrappy urgency and directness from their stripped-down, no-frills lineup: it's just Kate Cooper on guitar and lead vocals, Damon Cox on drums and backgrounds, but their limited numbers don't stop them from kicking up plenty of racket. The approach -- gritty and muscular but too melodic to come off as especially tough -- is wonderfully well-suited to the frank, up-front songwriting on their debut, packing a wallop of nervous energy that mirrors the emotional immediacy of Cooper's heart-sleeved relationship confessionals while moving briskly enough from hook to hook to preclude too much wallowing in earnestness. (The few exceptions, "Listen" and "Little Lungs," wherein the pace momentarily slackens, function just fine -- and even explicitly -- as breathers.) Opening shot "Camp Out" is the clear highlight, a bouncy four-chord jumble of sexual angst and exultantly hopeful confusion that builds to anthemic proportions, but the remainder of the album, which follows in a largely similar vein, is nearly up to that level. Ultimately, it's the sound as much as the songs that make Rearrange Beds so thoroughly enjoyable, that warmly familiar, tried but true indie rock buzz that An Horse seem to have offhandedly mastered, capturing all the necessary torment and jubilation of adolescence and rock & roll, and almost always coming out smiling on the other side.

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