Stalking Horse - Specters
After lead vocalist Neil ‘Wu’ Widdup’s former band This Et Al called it a day in 2008, it seemed like a premature departure from the game. Stalking Horse marks the return of the profoundly talented vocalist, an absence which has since seen the rise of Cumbrian falsetto kings Wild Beasts. It is with no surprise that the music press is saturated with vocal comparisons to Haydon Thorpe, as if to suggest Thorpe has taken Wu’s crowning attribute. Stalking Horse’s debut however, is a highly individual record, one that consistently misdirects any vain attempt at shoehorning a common denominator onto its sound.
Opener ‘Key Strokes’ immediately declares dominance on the listener, layering a heady distortion of guitars in the mist of Wu’s harmonious cries “tell me what do I need to start again?”, seemingly the answer to that question is undoubtedly: this record. After ‘The Dawn Is Father To The Sun’ maintains the gloomy, post-punk of the previous track, ‘99 Stairs’ electronic pulse makes for a satisfying follow up; unashamedly akin to the synth-pop drama of Pet Shop Boys or even, begrudgingly, Wild Beasts' 'Smother'. 'Doctor A Heart' aptly marks the soul of this record, as Wu with a delicate vocal elegance repeatedly whispers “you said that the blood tasted like cinnamon”. This understated beauty attaches an ethereal personality to Specters, a record full of distinction yet never quite in one place.