Örebro (pronounced in the most Swedish way you can imagine and not as I once did, making it sound like a famous German sweet manufacturer) is an extremely pleasant town with a nice castle. It is also home to my favourite Swedish football team. The reason I’m telling you all this is that Troubled Horse are from this town.
On the basis of listening to “Revolution on Request” I won’t be adding Troubled Horse to the town’s list of attractions. Essentially this is a collection of rock songs, which hark back to the 70s or even 60s in style. The understated fuzziness of “Desperation” would appear to be deliberate. There’s an attempt at humour – track 7 is called “Track 7” – and shock – “My Shit’s Fucked Up” – but neither is a passport to quality or innovation. The publicity tells us to expect “an invigorating whirlwind of spiky garage rock, propulsive psychedelia and thunderous, overdriven soul-meets-doom riffing”. I can detect psychedelia on “The Filthy Ones”, good old rock n roll on “Peasants” and a bit of atmosphere on the more laid back “Bleeding” but all in all Troubled Horse only manage to magic the remotest semblance of invigorating whirlwinds away into the ether of anonymity. There are good guitar solos and the songs are moderately catchy. “Hurricane” is a tinny rock song that you might hear in a pub but at least the guitarist sounds like he’s having a whale of a time. The vocals meanwhile are awful throughout. The song structures are all over the place. “The Filthy Ones” is just weak. “The Haunted” is more substantial but nothing comes out of the ideas and passages in it. There’s no adventure. There’s nothing actually wrong with “Which Way to the Mob” but there’s no imagination, and it just steps up for no apparent reason other than this is what happens. “My Shit” does have a nice REM type rhythm to be fair, and the lyrics are quite interesting but this is all just a journey of disappointment, made worse by crappy retro sound. I thought “Let Bastards Know” promised something punkish, but oh no: it’s just some whiny 60s thing. There’s a break in the middle and a guitar solo, but it’s all unsubstantial and they were never going to do much anyway in two and a half minutes. “Bleeding” was for me the best song but even there it was a case of trying to do too much and at no stage did this or any other song get my juices flowing.
“Revolution on Repeat” isn’t completely without energy, but it’s almost as if this energy has been driven away bound a negative combination of sound and structure. For me it had no character and cohesion. Nor does it have originality. My recollection of a concert I attended in Troubled Horse’s home town is of everyone hanging around the bar and only a handful of people watching the band. On this showing, I’d stick to the bar if Troubled Horse were playing.
(3/10 Andrew Doherty)