Sunshine and showers; melodrama and intimacy: Manchester’s Horsebeach are a beautiful mess of contradictions. Getintothis’ James Sullivan catches up on what you may have missed so far.
Sometimes you can’t hear an ounce of Manchester in the crisp, shimmering, West Coast pop songs of Horsebeach, now two albums in with the September release of new record, II.
Other times the languid flecks of funk bass and fluid guitar lines married with a unkempt crooning vocal about someone called Andy bring to mind one very notable Manchester band, often found happy in the haze of a drunken hour.
Horsebeach’s II has just been given the number two spot in Piccadilly Records’ Top 100 Albums of the Year, building on their already impeccable credentials. With this in mind, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the man behind the horse.
In 2014, Stockport’s Ryan Kennedy, under the name Horsebeach, put out an eponymous album (he doesn’t seem too bothered with album titles), quickly building up a head of steam thanks to its C86 jangle, piping keyboards and distinctively flanged-out, melodic guitar playing. This year’s record is a touch more strident, a touch more direct, and increasingly with a pleasingly melodramatic turn of phrase – album highlight Let You Down contains the memorable repeated refrain “And it was the perpetual death of our innocence”.
Real Estate is an obvious touchstone, in the spidery guitars and chiming psychedelia. So too early Cure. Kennedy’s vocals are sweetly undersung, the flat delivery adding oodles of charm to lines like Dana’s “She wears an oversized sweater to hide her oversized heart”.
It’s all so happily old-fashioned. A one man band, hunched over a tape-recorder in a Manchester flat, churning out dreamy pop landscapes that he can take on the road with his group. When he sings “These cobbled streets they guide me, I check my phone until it looks like I have somewhere I’m supposed to be” on album closer Avoid the Light, you can’t help but feel that, in fact, everything’s exactly where it’s supposed be.