Bronco running wild, yeah baby, I'm on fire.
There is a tendency for people to want to dismiss Orville Peck due to him being a "gimmick", an accusation that couldn't be further from the truth. To be entirely fair, that accusation might seem somewhat fair on the surface - After all, he is masked cowboy that doesn't reveal his true identity, is a clear showman with out-of-this-world outfits and a dedicated stylist, and who, despite growing up in Canada and South Africa, heavily leans into classic Americana influences and imagery a la Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley, all of which sounds unmistakably gimmicky.
But upon listening to Peck's music, it's clear that he's not just playing a game. Yes, he has his rollicking, Garth Brooks-style anthems, but there are plenty of moments where queerness and solitude creep into his lyrics, while his music takes on a haunting, melancholic tone. As if a duet with Shania Twain wasn't enough, an appearance of his stirring "Dead of Night" on HBO's latest sensation, Euphoria, seems destined to bring more eyes to Peck's music, and at just the right moment.
Alt-country's most mysterious face remains obscured by a veil of leather and fringe -- but for the first time in Orville Peck's whirlwind career, it finally feels like we're getting a look behind the persona, a peek at who's hiding beneath all that grit and gusto. If 2019's Pony introduced us to the mask, sparkling sophomore album Bronco is as unmasked as Peck has ever been.
Written in 2020 when the band were restricted from touring, isolation and an internal emotional battle led our broncobuster to some evidently dark places. As a result, this latest album's lyrics reflect a more personal, introspective tone -- and he seems right at home in bouts of misery, even if his once-solemn wail is sounding contrarily cheery nowadays.