Goldenhorse are the best pop band in the universe right now, and their two albums are a microcosm of all that’s good in music. Their jaunty melodies with dark undertones and the sometimes-sweet, sometimes twisted lyrics form an irresistible combination. Listen to Goldenhorse now and make yourself into a better person.
I was a late arrival to the Goldenhorse party when I got their debut album Riverhead a couple of years ago, and I have just recently acquired the follow-up, Out of the Moon. The opening track “Don’t Wake Me Up” hits you with a full, lush sound, with tinkling keyboards and guitars, a nice driving rhythm and a sweet melody from an even sweeter voice. Later, “4 Minute Drive” and the title track offer similar poppy thrills, but there’s a lot of variety. “Fish” features gorgeous male/female harmony, and there’s also a plaintive cowgirl lament called “Cowgirl Lament”. Perhaps the oddest song is the eerie singalong “Alien”, about an impending visitation from alien beings. It’s one of my favourites. Please don’t read anything into that.
If you’re still not convinced about this great band, bear in mind that I have only described their second album here — and I think the first is even better. If you didn’t have ears, Goldenhorse would be reason enough to get a pair.
I agree. Goldenhorse are (probably) the most talented band in either hemisphere just now. Its surprising and a shame that hardly anyone outside their native New Zealand has even heard of them. What marks them out, in my view, is their ability to create haunting, absolutely original melodic lines over harmonic progressions that are way, way off the well-trodden track and yet completely recognizable as superb music ideas. We are talking really long phrases here – something that only works when the music is really going somewhere – rather than the we-are-trying-to-hypnotise you-by-repeating-the-same-trivial-mantra-again-and-again that most commercial pop is based upon these days.
This, their second album, isn’t quite as good as Riverhead, but since it represents only a year of creative achievement – much shorter than the period that predated their debut album, there is no reason to fear that their magic pool of ideas is drying out yet.
Oh yes, I almost forgot to tell you that the lead singer Kirsten Morell has an absolutely fantastic voice – think the athleticism of Kate Bush combined with the cuteness appeal of Blondie and the smooth honey of Karen Carpenter.