with Kevin Devine
8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16
(Mom & Pop Music)
After their initial, whirlwind blast of international action on the wings of some high-profile supporting tours, Australian indie-rock band An Horse reemerges with a radiantly steady sophomore full-length album that further builds their case as an act worthy of primetime attention. Like Tegan and Sara, the group that practically introduced them to the Western Hemisphere, the duo of singer-guitarist Kate Cooper and drummer-vocalist Damon Cox is founded on precise pop hooks. What they cede to the Quin sisters in preciousness, however, they make up for in rock brawn.
Walls confidently reaffirms the effective simplicity of An Horse’s blueprint. First, the sinews of their driving guitar pop pack the power. Meanwhile, the fuss-free, immediate grab of their chiming, buzzy, ’90s-influenced melodies pumps them with emotional directness and urgency. With running times that stay tidily within the two- and three-minute range, their songs maintain focus. It all makes for something nourishing, tried and true. It’s indie-rock comfort food done impeccably, nothing overthought or overcooked.
The remarkably consistent and likeable collection hums along like a trusty engine. Tuneful, soaring, punk-hearted jaunts like “Airport Death,” “Trains and Tracks” and “Leave Me” are easy winners. But “Dressed Sharply,” the album’s best song, shows how big, active and ringing this two-piece can really be. Even in more muted and reflective moments like “Not Mine” and “100 Whales,” Kate Cooper’s identifiably sharp and sweet vocal turns still captivate.
However simple the idea, there’s something to be said for doing a thing well. It takes another level of restraint entirely not to fuck with a good thing. On both these accounts, An Horse is blessed with intuitive genius, and they do it all with taste and attitudinal freshness.