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Zeahorse Pack Vibrant & Teeming Noise Rock On Psych-Inflected New Full-Length

The Sydney, Australia-based noise rock group Zeahorse sound strangely captivating on their heavy-as-hell but vibrantly exploratory new album Let’s Not (And Say We Did).

The music itself seems to capture a sense of strangeness, with noise rock dynamics and a sprawling palette of unpredictable musical turns. There’s a free-wheeling energy in the music, but it’s very grounded on account of intricately propulsive songwriting and gritty riffing that feels steeped in some kind of odd mixture of willfully flippant wonder and potentially crippling tension.

Opening track “Designer Smiles” moves through repetitious and entrancing riffing with a remarkably thick edge, with ample distortion in the music delivering somewhat of a psych vibe alongside a tension-fueled sense of menace. Here and elsewhere, the ominous music feels genuinely physically formidable, as though dragging out a trench in the earth as the sounds move along.

Meanwhile, follow-up track “Panic Laps” keeps a similar texture but opens with a brisker and more punk-oriented vibe, and the broad breadth provided by the heavy fuzz makes the creeping frenzy feel unmistakably forceful and immersive.

The punked up vibe reappears at points like the track “The Ladder,” and the album as a whole feels like some kind of strangely alluring nihilistic dance as muck of unknown origin somehow rains from the sky. The energy rather consistently stays up, while the grimy psychedelics largely remain firmly in place. Occasionally, the record takes on somewhat of a classic rock vibe via comparatively restrained dynamics and drifting riffs, but the tension never disappears. Instead, the underlying ideas feel captivatingly twisted, as though stepping into a scene that feels off-kilter without understanding what exactly is responsible for the unease. There’s just a looming sense that something isn’t as it should be.

The album’s heaviness is definitely a defining feature — “One of Everything,” for instance. is an unmistakably massive-sounding track, with thunderous riffing bearing down across the experience. Rather than slow, shuddering progressions, Zeahorse remain remarkably forward-moving throughout Let’s Not (And Say We Did), making the album feel like getting suddenly swept up into some kind of rickety roller-coaster through neon storm clouds. The album sits right at that point between an expansively sort of cosmic, spacey sound and a grimy punk feeling, exploring metaphorical space where these two feelings mix until lines marking the difference are no longer distinguishable.

Zeahorse’s striking, psychedelically-inflected, and punked up noise rock feels marvelously unsettling, like a thrill ride that ventures well outside of familiar bounds of stability.

5/5 Stars

Listen to Let’s Not (And Say We Did) below!