When Love Runs Dry by Dead Horse One

Release date: March 18, 2022
Label: Requiem Pour Un Twister

I have been following these French psych gazers for years, through a trio of excellent full lengths and various EPs. For this release, the band worked with producer Brendan Williams (Soul Blind, Warm) and have changed their sound rather substantially to a heavy melange of grunge and shoegaze. I am not quite on board with this change as I adored their previous efforts, but I applaud them for trying something different. You might call this grungegaze if you are so inclined, for the melodic elements that make their work so entrancing are still in play.

Listen to the bass heavy opener ‘Core’ for an inkling of this melodic delta. You will recognize the riff heavy thump of grunge, but when the vocals start up, they are drenched in spacey reverb compared to the sonic onslaught hitting your synapses. Yes, the group’s melodic sensibility is still very much in evidence, despite appearances. ‘Static King’ is boot stomping hard rock, similar to what Boston’s Magic Shoppe is slamming listeners with these days. But Dead Horse One is less bluesy than their Massachusetts brethren and are more ethereal. Band leader Oliver Debard has a fine voice, and I dig the softer interludes lurking between massive walls of sound on ‘Nevermore’.

The EP is a sleeper, and its charms have crept on me during many months of listening through the five tracks. ‘Mentally Homeless’ and the live piano version of ‘Static King’ are dead silent in contrast to the opening trio of heavy hitting tunes, and it underscores the talents of this quintet in a contemplative fashion. Both tracks are gorgeous, gauzy confections that fans of their older material will especially appreciate. The piano version of ‘Static King’ really draws out the emotional aspect, and I think it is my favorite.

Despite COVID and now war, this Valence, France band has managed to bypass the horrible happenings around us and have produced a fine collection of material. Recommended for all fans of melodic grunge, shoegaze, psych, and dream pop, and for anyone who has followed Dead Horse One to date.

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