I’m still not sure what “Horse Girl Energy” is, but it certainly has New Primals more hyped up than any other rock band I’ve heard this year. Across a tight but raucous half-hour run time, the Minneapolis-based trio consistently blows me away with the sheer amount of (horse girl) energy they infuse into their broad blend of rock offshoots. If you’ve been seeking some noisy, punky experimental rock played at the highest-level, then consider that expedition complete.
While Horse Girl Energy is a unique beast, you can draw some clear parallels from New Primals to post-hardcore and noise rock legends like Fugazi and The Jesus Lizard. There’s even some subtle influences from the ’90s mathcore/metalic hardcore scene in terms of how abrasive some of the band’s riffing gets; think bands like Cave In and Coalesce that ultimately adopted a more rock-oriented sound. Yet, even after citing these comps, it should still be clear how much of a distinct voice New Primals have. Much of their songwriting pops with a certain glam rock and dance punk flair, thanks in large part to an impassioned and varied vocal performance from Sam Frederick.
All of this starts to play out immediately on album opener “Blood & Water,” a track which starts out reminiscent of Fugazi’s The Argument yet quickly explodes into an off-kilter web of shifting time signatures and dissonant guitar riffs. The band control the chaos with some danceable beats and genuinely catchy guitar rifts in the midsection, which weave in and out of more experimental passages seamlessly. By the time a series of samples helps wind the track down, you feel as though you’ve experienced multiple songs in just a four-and-a-half-minute span, a testament to the band’s ability to package endless creativity into cohesive songwriting.
Up next is “A Beast With Two Backs,” the lead single that first piqued my interest in New Primals. Just listen to the crisp, sharp drum fill, rumbling, fuzzy bass line, and noisy-yet-infectious guitar hook that opens the track and tell me you’re not instantly hooked. “Wax Poets” might be even more of a banger, what with its distinct, angular guitar hook working in lock-step with equally fluid percussion.
A trio of wild, winding tracks comprises the album’s midsection. Frederick’s eclectic vocals duke it out with odd electronics and samples over an increasingly heavy noise rock foundation on “Coma Fiend,” while “Wraith” takes perhaps the most liberated, improvisational sounding approach of any track on the album. Naturally, the band throw listeners a curveball with a slow, dusty ballad on the title track, before business as usual resumes for the album’s final third. “Tightrope” brings the album full circle with a similarly bizarre outro to a wild track, as the album closes out with muffled shouting over the unsettling sounds of a music box.
Whatever your preferred style of rock music might be, there’s a good chance it shows up in the incredibly varied songwriting New Primals unleash on Horse Girl Energy. Yet, at its core, the key is a seemingly endless source of passion that helps every song excel beyond its compositional potential. This will surely remain one of the standout albums for noise rock and post-hardcore this year, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Horse Girl Energy is available March 20 via Learning Curve Records.