Rubyhorse

Rise

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Ringing guitars, thunderous drums, big hooks, deep-echo percussion, a voice that opens like a flower blooming on the lip of a volcano -- and they come from Ireland. Sound familiar? Like a certain other band renowned for its sweeping gestures, Rubyhorse plays with passionate intensity, a fact made evident throughout Rise. In fact, they skate a little close to imitation, but they do so with such conviction -- indeed, how can you conjure U2 without conviction? -- that it's an easy trespass to forgive. The Edge's rhythmic, muted sixteenth-note guitar scrapes turn up on "Evergreen" as an electronic pulse -- different tool, same effect. But that track also features some extraordinary twists and turns, and builds such momentum that it barrels right into "Horseless" without a break. Tasteful but dramatic keyboard work from Owen Fegan nudges their sound closer to conventional arena rock, except on "The First of the Year," whose Mellotron textures refer clearly to "Strawberry Fields Forever." They even hobnob with a real Beatle, as George Harrison contributes slide guitar fills to "Punchdrunk." With a U.S. launch like this, not to mention a transatlantic base built on birth in Cork and a home base in Boston, Rubyhorse seems like a good bet to win.

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