With several singles already under their belt, Chicago’s Horsegirl have been steadily making waves for a couple of years now. Had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic you wonder just how farther along they would be.
Pandemic notwithstanding, based on the strength of their early singles it was only a matter of time before labels began sniffing around, and after signing to Matador, Horsegirl release their debut LP, Versions of Modern Performance.
Consisting of Nora Cheng, Gigi Reece and Penelope Lowenstein (sister of Isaac of Lifeguard who once featured in Horsegirl alongside fellow Lifeguarder, Asher Case), Horsegirl spearhead a new generation of record collector indie rock and ’90s zine reverence. Suffice to say, it’s good to see the youth still have taste, and in Horsegirl’s case there’s an abundance of it.
The sprawling assault kicks off with Anti-glory: a stalking post-punk thing that spits and swerves with new energy. Its remnants bleed into Beautiful Song – a ditty bursting with a Mission Of Burma lustre.
With John Agnello (Duquette Johnston, Holy Sons et al) adding beautiful flourishes and subtle tones from behind the studio glass, Live and Ski is a wiry punk stomp with shades of shoegaze flange, and it continues on the sonic meander of Bog Bog 1 and later with Electrolocation 2.
With splintered percussion, Dirtybag Transformation (Still Dirty) sees Horsegirl passing of a Breeders aroma with narcotic effect. Meanwhile cloaked in a new shade of darkness The Fall of Horsegirl sees the band looking a bit closer to home in the way of fellow Chicago heads and forefathers of the new world in FACS. Here Horsegirl whip up sinister walls of post-apocalyptic magic that draw you into their portal of gloom.
Then there’s Option 8 and Homage to Birdnoculars. Dead-eyed post-punk extracted from the ire of the ’80s. Delivered with inch-perfect precision, you won’t get a better interpretation of the genre all year. Not only do their song titles permeate a sneering humour, the latter sees Horsegirl giving a subtle nod to Shellac’s Crow.
Which feeds into World of Pots and Pans. A hammer-blow mash of Mission Of Burma and ’90s post-hardcore and the results are very fine indeed.
The curtains are drawn with closing song, Billy. If any band needs a better reinterpretation of indie rock circa 2022 then Horsegirl unleash it right here with electrifying waves of sound.
On Versions of Modern Performance, Agnello’s tutelage from behind the soundboards is vital, adding the necessary embellishments to transform this album from a run of the mill pastiche offering to something fresh and vital.
Make no mistake, Versions of Modern Performance is an assured piece of work from a band that are going places real fast, and not in a flash-in-the-pan hype band kind of way, either. While this is only the start of their journey, believe us when we say Horsegirl are here to stay.
Versions of Modern Performance is out now via Matador Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.