They Shoot Horses Don't They

Boo Hoo Hoo Boo (Kill Rock Stars) (Mute)

Hipsters looking for disagreeable, hard-to-digest music will presumably turn toward the new Liars record, Drum's Not Dead, for a hearty dose of parent-scaring noise. It's a reasonable assumption, as their last album, in spite of its weirdness and witch-loving themes, won out the noise-rock crowd by pulling off near-poppy magic not often heard in the genre. Unfortunately, DND removes the tribal passion and thunderous rhythm section that tied the insanity together on 2003's They Were Wrong So We Drowned, and the resulting album, while intriguing, revels in its aimlessness. Allow me, then, to place a scarf-wearing fork in the road for nuttier music seekers. Vancouver septet They Shoot Horses Don't They isn't a Liars sound-alike in any way, but their willingness to buck every trend you've ever heard — and remain poppy at the same time — is exciting in the same way that Drowned was. If the members of Cake tried to become superheroes by ingesting radioactive waste, only to become grossly ill and play a newly infected style of horn-led bravado instead, they'd possibly put out an album as genius as Boo Hoo Hoo Boo.

This debut's best moments will get lodged in your brain, like the four-note progression in "Three" that creeps up in intensity, its horn section matched with shouts and "oo-ee-oo-ee-oo"s on every note, until a knee-slappin' Canadian hootenanny breaks out. There's also the clap-along silliness of "Big Dot" that gets a boost from an out-of-nowhere Doors-loving organ line and the backed-in-the-corner shouts from lead singer Nut Brown in "Lowlife" ("Is that a smile or paint on your face?/The smile wants to leave but somehow it stays"). The result is the best of both worlds for freaky hipsters — TSHDT might be hard to digest at first, but after one listen, their dazzling songs become hard to discard.

 
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