Alternative music reviews

Things In Herds

Everything Has To End Somewhere Oct 2004

Turn the lights down low (or turn them off altogether). Get your beer, wine, cigarettes or whatever you need for comfort and put the latest recording by Things In Herds. For anyone with an ounce of romance, who has ever tasted disappointment in love; be prepared to take an emotional ride to those open wounds you thought you'd left behind. I know not everybody likes music to change their mood, to break their heart. I can survive on thrash and energy for weeks but there are times when I need to reflect and relax from the endless forced optimism that living sometimes requires. Into this space, this insulated box, comes Things In Herds.

Pete Lush has a voice of such clarity and tenderness that when mixed with these astonishingly simple, crafted songs he produces music of exquisite beauty. When he sings a line likeYou have loved and that's enough he can imbue such tenderness, pathos and sense of emotional tension. This album is a more muted affair than the first album, even sparser instrumentation on most songs. But the difference is that the slower songs on I Can Walking and Dancing didn't always hold the attention, whereas here every song is capable of stopping you in your tracks. Perhaps it slightly fades in fascination towards the end, but this is quite simply the best, saddest music you could ever hope to hear. Cathartic and precious.

 
I Can Dancing and Walking Jul 2002

I received this CD about 8 months ago and I was very complimentary about it. The songs on MP3.com had been played more than 100,000 times! (you can't fake that number of plays - my own band's total plays stands at 62) so there was already serious interest. Since then Things In Herds have done brilliantly on Peoplesound and signed to an Indie label.

I felt that it was time to re-visit my review because sometimes your feelings about music changes over time. As a sort-of musician myself I always try to be kind to someone who is trying to make it in the music business - but I have to say in this case, I don't need any feelings of sympathy to say that this is a stunning CD. It still takes my breath away and I can feel my heart leap and chest go tight as familiar, but always inspiring, melodies leap out at me. For years the Go-Betweens did this to me and now it's Things In Herds who take their place in my affections.

The music is melancholy and tenderness mixed with a grasp of how to write songs that make people go quiet and listen and go off into their own thoughts. It's hard to find comparisons for the music - I initially thought I could hear late-70s indie bands like Eyeless In Gaza and Dalek I Love You . Now, I can only think of Songs: Ohia's Ghost Tropic for mood and the very best melodic achievements of Sparklehorse (stripped of all the sonic messing about). Acoustic-based, it is sparsely arranged but there's a sense of play and a confidence with the music which tells you that this is a real talent. As a whole the album does tail off and becomes a bit quiet and introspective - but the first 5 songs from "Always Disappear" to "Come In" are unforgettable.

This CD is rarely in it's cover and is a firm family favourite - it gets played in quiet moments and when we get visitors, we slip it on in the backgound. But it isn't background music - so many people have asked what it is and urged us to tape it. Of course we don't tape it (sympathy for a struggling musician) - but we know what a number of people are getting as their Christmas present!


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