If I remember rightly, when I was researching Team Horse to review EP ‘Here Come the Hurricane’, the only band he (keep up, folks, it’s a one-man show) namechecked was Lightning Bolt.  This time, his Bandcamp site also mentions Jesu, Mogwai, and DJ Shadow and that’s definitely more the direction the album has gone in.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say the Lightning Bolt element has all but disappeared.

Overall, new album ‘Children of the Winter’ sounds a lot more polished and professional than the EP.  The pace has been slowed right down and there’s a lot less of the crunchy bass and hectic guitar meltdowns.  It’s atmospheric and moody, rather than energetic and noisy.  Not necessarily a bad thing as such, but it does lack some of the rawness that thrust ‘Here Come the Hurricane’ into my favourites list last year.  That offering had me immediately imagining Team Horse live – this one is definitely one to be enjoyed at home.

All of Team Horse‘s music is made with just a bass guitar and synths and I wonder whether the focus has shifted more to playing around with this to get some higher melody lines worked into tunes, possibly at the expense of some of the more delightfully filthy basslines on ‘Here Come the Hurricane’.  As I say, the overall effect is a generally slower, more atmospheric set of tunes – heavier on the drone than the noise.

That said, some tracks still retain the dark, stomp and crunch, including ‘Starsky Starsky Starsky’, where a simple, threatening bass line bubbles under the guitar refrain, and ‘The Black Heart Procession’ – an aptly named, funereal march with heavy beats and bass looping and building through delay and fuzz.  Title track ‘Children of the Winter’ is another stand-out track, with bass so deep it’s almost outside a normal human’s hearing register.

If I had a criticism about this album it’s that a few of the tracks seem to just stop, instead of finishing.  They build and throb for a while then just…end.  It’s like he gets a great idea but never fully builds it into what he really wants to make it and it leaves me a little disappointed.  Wanting more.  Wondering whether he ran out of time to completely perfect the track before including it on an album.

It seems a truism that some bands release amazing EPs that set a precedent their albums sometimes can’t quite match up to.  It’s a shame, and I wish they didn’t feel the pressure to do it.  Personally, I think I’d rather have the amazing EPs.

Top tracks: ‘Starsky Starsky Starsky’, ‘The Black Heart Procession’.

Out now through Bandcamp

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Posted by Aicha

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