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Horsebox

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Album Review

Frankie Stubbs has delivered another manifesto of emotional overload, of vocal heart meltdown on record for a solid 47 minutes. Delivering the first Leatherface album of new material in six years, Horsebox is another stunning achievement of brain, brawn, guts, pathos, and liquid fire. Even without the gut-wrenching cover of Nick Cave's "Ship Song," it's clear these guys don't just pummel you senseless — they flat out know how to play, and Stubbs writes and arranges in an extremely mature manner that feels more complex the more you hear the individual parts. Horsebox is so charged, it's as stubborn to get into as it is to do descriptive justice to, but it also entices from the first play. Stubbs continues to work in mid-tempo material, with passages where the guitars drop out or merely pick at power-lead parts. He and second guitarist Leighton Evans are at their call-and-answer best on the bridge of the most melodic killer "Closing Time," following a passage that's merely bobbing bass and tremendous drumming. "Lorrydrivers Son" and "Box Jellyfish" are two more melodic, meticulously picked gems that give some break from the gale. A criticism? Perhaps they could go out on a limb a little more. It would be good to show more people the deeper ranges of Stubbs' tastes and abilities. That such a bomb like this could be dropped is some kind of miracle — a marvel doubled when one considers that this band was thought dead forever a few years ago. Like all the hottest LPs, it will take you a few plays for its more discriminating qualities to take hold, for its emotional center to reveal itself amidst the volcanic eruptions, aside from the sound of Stubbs' headlong imploring. And once it does, watch out.

Biography

Formed: Sunderland, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

England's Leatherface are a rare treasure in contemporary music -- a good old-fashioned punk rock band who are neither near-sighted nor necrophiles. But, boy, do they take some getting used to. Frankie Norman Warsaw Stubbs's voice -- well, to call it untutored would be kind. Yet once you get used to it, it's as affecting as, say, Bob Mould's or Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers). Formed in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear in the late '80s, taking their name from the central masked character in cult classic...
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Horsebox, Leatherface
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