Rearrange Beds wasn't exactly the most spectacular or innovative debut in indie rock history, but it introduced An Horse as an immensely likable band, getting plenty of mileage out of sheer, nervy energy, an old-fashioned allegiance to a certain loud-and-proud indie/punk ethos, and the scrappy interplay between Damon Cox's fiery drumming, Kate Cooper's churning guitar work, and her breathlessly ardent (and endearingly accented) vocals. (The duo's fresh-faced, spunky blond looks didn't hurt either.) Well, the first words out of Cooper's mouth on Walls are as follows: "I have nothing new to tell you since the last time I wrote." Sure enough, the Aussie twosome mostly stick to a tried-and-true approach for album number two, which should come as good news to those already in sway to their considerable charms. The album's front end, in particular, serves notice that not too much has changed: there may not be a standout here that comes close to the poppily anthemic "Camp Out," but "Dressed Sharply" and the driving "Trains and Tracks" are reasonably serviceable substitutes, and there's plenty more tunefully gritty rock where those came from. But there's also a slightly frustrating sense of stagnancy which isn't necessarily helped by the occasional signs of musical growth. The duo's playing has gotten tighter and more refined, with Cox in particular unleashing some impeccably precise bursts of ferocity behind the kit: check the fireballing "Trains" and his merciless snare work on the tightly wound "Leave Me." But Cooper's songs don't always match that energy; the title track's acoustic guitars and group harmonies make for a nice change of pace, but much of the album's latter half feels overly restrained, and even uncharacteristically subdued. So while Walls generally finds An Horse treading water, enjoyably enough for the most part, it also suggests that they've arrived at a slight impasse as to how to proceed from here; how to balance artistic development and expansion with the youthful urgency and directness that has marked their best moments, at least so far. It's a classic, all-too-familiar sophomore-album quandary, and it's somehow reassuring, even endearing, to know that An Horse are sticking to the script.
AllMusic Review by K. Ross Hoffman