Growly beat-driven goth pop
OTW #482: Dark Horses

We love a band with a bit of bluster, so it was easy to fall for Brighton’s Dark Horses - who aren’t exactly shy and retiring types. Indeed, their debut album ‘Black Music’ is a bubbling orgy of growling goth pop, psychedelia and Krautrock that boasts a clutch of ohrwurm melodies.

When Clash caught up with lead singer, and Dark Horses visionary, Lisa Elle, she described the noise her band makes as “sonic soul - which as well as being a great alliteration, is also the telepathic connection that every Dark Horse shares - the jaguar that roams our minds.”

Aside from the neat line in sound bites, Dark Horses are also big on image. They dress predominantly in black (to commemorate “the death of rock ‘n’ roll”) and one band member, Ali Tollervey, has the sole role of taking photos of the band onstage. “The camera is as important as the distortion pedal,” Lisa reveals, while further explaining that their penchant for monochrome attire is down to “mourning the death of one generation’s passion and herald the glory of another’s birth - ours!”

However, thankfully, the music lives up to the spiel. ‘Black Music’ is a scorchingly good album; the thumping electronica of debut single ‘Alone’ is a shimmering anthem for a lost generation, while, intriguingly, Kasabian’s Tom Meighan lends his larynx to the lovely ‘Count Me In’. Lisa divulges that Meighan was “as generous as he is creative” and that the reason for Dark Horses including a fantastically taut cover version of Talking Heads’ venerable classic ‘Road To Nowhere’ was due to them “loving the inherent humour in the contrast of the lyric versus the lightness of the melody.”

As for other musical influences, Lisa cites Clinic as the band “all of Dark Horses agree on” and admits that John Lee Hooker provides pre-show ‘spiritual courage’ because “honey, if you listened to John Lee Hooker’s ‘Church Bell Tone’ before you went on stage, then you'd perform like there’s no tomorrow.” We like being called honey.

Dark Horses will be embarking on a UK tour in March (including a support slot with Kasabian for the Teenage Cancer Trust show at the Royal Albert Hall) and Lisa promises evenings of “murder, mayhem and sex” – to paraphrase Alfred Hitchcock – “with perfect costumes and a joke or two.” Clash has rarely had a better offer.

Words by John Freeman

Where: Brighton
What: Growly beat-driven goth pop.
Get 3 Songs: ‘Traps’, ‘Alone’, ‘Road To Nowhere’.
Unique Fact: Dark Horses’ line-up not only includes Ali Tollervey on camera, but also Tommy Chain who plays, er, a metal chain.


Follow Clash: