Release Date: Apr 15, 2014
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Oklahoma. To the naïve British mind the name ushers images of tumble-weed strewn highways that cut through rich orange desert, soundtracked by the likes of Woody Guthrie and The Flaming Lips. Although the reality of the landscape may well differ greatly to the romanticised vision of a young Brit sitting in cold, grey Outer-London, the musical heritage of the state is certainly no myth.
Horse Thief’s two biggest – and most obvious – influences are Workingman’s Dead/American Beauty era of the Grateful Dead and the songwriter side (and vocal tics) of Neil Young. The Oklahoma five-piece have made a fine folk-by-way-of-psychedelia indie rock record called Fear In Bliss. Here’s the thing, though: If the band’s goal was to simply create a solid set of songs, they succeeded.
Following up their woolly 2011 indie debut, Go Deep, Go Wild, Oklahoma City quintet Horse Thief deliver a more subdued but ultimately better-built sophomore effort with Fear in Bliss. With the aid of producer Thom Monahan (Pernice Brothers, Devendra Banhart), they've taken the beard trimmer to their bristly, haphazard psych-folk and shaped it into something more accessible, putting the focus on frontman Cameron Neal's improved songwriting. Horse Thief have come a long way since their humble teenage beginnings in Denton, Texas, and while their debut for Britain's Bella Union label still owes a debt to their major influences (Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear), Fear in Bliss finds them beginning to settle into their own identity.
There’s a track by Dizzy Gillespie (feat. John Coltrane) called You Stole My Wife, You Horse Thief. It’s a sexist title, granted, but what a fantastic tune. Whether the Oklahoma band Horse Thief were named after that tune remains to be seen, but their music couldn’t really be much further away from Dizzy’s jolly bar-room boogie.