Beautifully unique
Ben Broyd
10:41 1st June 2022

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Horsegirl are an incredible three-piece rock band hailing from Chicago, Illinois, consisting of best friends Nora Cheng, Penelope Lowenstein and Gigi Reece, and you feel their tight knit bond emanating throughout their debut album Versions of Modern Performance. Their collective, cohesive energy is utterly infectious: the band do everything together, all the way from songwriting to trading vocal duties and swapping instruments to sound and visual art design, with the thought and precision that they put into their music behind the scenes allowing the music that we hear on the other side to flourish. 

Versions of Modern Performance appears to be an instant classic: it is incisive and sharp, but with a clear narrative that runs throughout. The band explained of the album: “We made this album knowing so fully what we were trying to do. We would never pursue something if one person wasn’t feeling good about it. But also, if someone thought something was good, chances are we all thought it was good.” It's abundantly clear through the confidence in which the band carries themselves that they were so very well aware of what they were intending to create when producing the record. 

There are so many paths and different elements to the album which make it compelling: you can hear the variety of influences throughout in songs such as ‘Anti-Glory’ and ‘Dirtbag Transformation’ which both contain a real post-punk feel with heavy-hitting riffs and emotive vocals. Horsegirl are also capable of showing a gentler side to them in ‘The Guitar is Dead’ which is in stark contrast to the rest of the album — essentially the calm within the storm — as the song plays out with a simple piano melody.

'The Fall of Horsegirl’, in contrast, is anything but tranquil. In fact, it feels as though this is the track in which Horsegirl really come into their own: it is an incredible example of the band honing in on their unique sound and fully developing into the post-punk/grunge sound.

Throughout the record there is a real sense of juxtaposition. It is packed with discomfiting reverb and mellow tones, and in fusing the two together, it is captivating. Horsegirl bring the album to a close with the incredible single ‘Billy’, a cut that is jovial yet melancholy. 'Billy' almost acts as a symbol of success, bidding farewell to an excellent body of work and a record that Horsegirl should be incredibly proud of.

When listening you really hear the elements of the ‘80s and ‘90s independent music that the group have been so deeply influenced by: this is the classic college rock sound combined with elements of new wave. The future is seriously bright for Horsegirl, and they have every reason to be optimistic when they are curating such a beautifully unique sound as evident in Versions of Modern Performance. 

Versions of Modern Performance arrives 3 June via Matador Records.

Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.

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Photo: Press