Race Horses – Corsica Studios, London – 7 December 2011

Written for The Music Fix.

Euros Childs’ old band Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci was a singular force in Welsh pop music up until their final album dropped in 2003. Nearly ten years later, his protégés Race Horses have worked from the very same bilingual psych-folk-pop palette to great effect. Capturing the innocence of a young band whose vision is unpretentiously distanced from whatever the zeitgeist was supposed to be, their debut album was among the most refreshing of 2010.

New musical developments were on the agenda at Corsica Studios, where new songs showed off an increased emphasis on catchy rhythms, with two percussionists adding xylophone and cowbells on top of more traditional kit. Elsewhere, the initially mellow ‘What Am I To Do?’ ended with Dylan Hughes’ unexpectedly dissonant guitar line. It wasn’t as jarring as it might have been, but it amounted to another idiosyncrasy to those which have repelled the band from the mainstream.

In a setlist dominated by the new material, only two tracks from Goodbye Falkenburg made the cut. Frontman Meilyr Jones switched to a pure falsetto for chirpy single ‘Pony’, which evoked Father Ted’s ‘My Lovely Horse’ without descending into farce. Multifaceted closer ‘Marged Wedi Blino’ channelled Gorky’s the most – around Welsh lyrics, its pop opening gave way to serene folk phrases and organ drones, before a guitar shredding coda capped off the performance.

Race Horses might not be the hippest of indie bands, but their spontaneous, off-kilter kind of pop more than justifies the cult attention their show receives.

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