I'd like to start by saying the artwork for this single is incredible, both art and size wise! I grabbed the high res version for all you lovers of high definition quality as well (I'm always thinking of you guys!) so go ahead. Relish in its eye-watering sharpness! However, album covers are only ever a facade, hiding the music behind often pretty pictures. I can appreciate record sleeves, but they must never influence a conscious decision not to listen. The famous piece of advice 'never judge a book by its cover' comes to mind, but fortunately Hoodlums came out from behind their curtain of expectation with the intention of fulfilling such a request. Based in a certain British capital Hoodlums dropped this split single, 'Dark Horses' a few months ago, yet they've already received attention from both Q Magazine and BBC6. Not streaming an' ignoring such respected musical critics was impossible and I'm so wonderfully glad I didn't!
Opening with the title track, a surprising piano melody begins to weave in and out of an unwavering electronic phrase that stays throughout these four minutes. The vocals aren't the most impressive nor the most unique you'll have ever heard, but this ordinary, human quality to them ensures a strong bond between singer and audience can be tied. There is a fantastic set of drums taking a hold on this track too. They pound and race and pant like the horses sang about. As the piano grows and the vocals reach an epic climactic apex, a wind blows through your hair. Hooves thunder and the salty spit of a raging ocean catches your cheek. Faster choruses. Abundant high notes. Inspirational lyricism and the euphoric theatricality we all long to experience make 'Dark Horses' the powerful, beautiful thing it is!
The b-side to the single is 'Ends of the Earth', and it's clear it's a b-side for a reason. A slower, more predictable number, something about the vocals reminds me of Ed Sheeran, especially in those first few lines. It's far from a bad thing but rather an observation seeing as no such influence reared its head during the first track. It builds and swells in the same way, but these four minutes lack that hit. That intensity and quietly terrified grip upon your heartstrings that Dark Horses managed to pull off. It's not a bad track, just suitably inferior to the opener. All in all though, it balances a clearly aspirational single. Hoodlums want to go all the way, and have the passion and ability to do so. Stream the title track below and ready yourselves for the single to drop on the final day of January! I certainly will be! Site.