Horse Feathers – Cynics New Year


Album: Horse Feathers
Artist: Cynic’s New Year
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Rating: 8.0

Clear the last dishes, retire with your friends to the porch, and curl up with this one. Cynic’s New Year is just the album to wrap up an evening and segway into one of those first warm nights of spring.

Far from its insinuated negativity, Horse Feather’s fourth album imparts a delicate and subdued joy straight from the first track. It’s the sort of album that turns your blood into molasses and unfurrows your brow. There is such a contagious contentment that frontman Justin Ringle imparts on the listener that you can’t help but be at ease.

Horse Feathers has managed to find a magic combination of plucky banjo, pastoral strings, and a surprisingly driving rhythm section that creates a sound that is as handsome as it is dainty. ‘A Heart Arcane’ (ar·kane, known or understood by few) introduces the album with a deceptively hypnotic guitar line that puts you in the mood for the next forty five minutes. This same mesmerizing repetition is used throughout, though it’s the staccato strings and chipper glockenspiel that keep the album dreamy, rather than drowsy.

The best example of this is on ‘Pacific Bray’, a song that pays homage to the band’s place of birth, Portland. While parts of the album show off a more landlocked sounding side of folk, there’s no doubting that elements of the West Coast surface in their sound. After all, the album itself was created by fourteen musicians all hailing from the Pacific Northwest.Together they’ve dampened each track with their native salty undertones and really, with summer on the horizon, perhaps a bit of brine is the best thing for us.

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