Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love

written by: February 23, 2012
Release Date: Jan. 20, 2012


Not quite metal, not quite garage rock, not quite alternative; Pulled Apart By Horses fall into what some define as “Disco Metal”, a purgatory of a subgenre that condemns all with its stamp as being heavy-but-not-heavy enough. Partially unfair and completely accurate, Tough Love refuses to commit to a singular style; content to surround itself with healthy doses of screaming, thrashing and smashing, all amidst dancehall funk and guitar playing that isn’t afraid to flirt with hair metal.

What keeps Tough Love from working is, well, timing. Had the band been making this kind of music a decade ago, this genre mashup might have turned heads. Today, in 2012, not so much: Pulled Apart By Horses sounds a lot like everybody else, or rather, pieces of everybody else. Though certainly not straightforward, the record is hardly as intricately weird as other post-genre bands like Daughters, who were noted for mixing noise, spazz, and dance grooves. Nor does it have the crossover commercial appeal of say, Pablo Honey-era Radiohead.

This isn’t to say Pulled Apart By Horses fail to resonate. They do. Look past the fluff and you’ll find some solid musicianship. Tough Love is the kind of record that gets the blood pumping. It’s great music to smash bottles on a sidewalk to. (Not that we’ve ever done this.)  For instance, lead single “V.E.N.O.M.,” carries with its backronym-titled charm a wink of playfulness nestled in-between its dark, sly kitsch factor. “V.E.N.O.M.” is a song from a better record, and a hint at what Pulled Apart By Horses could be were they willing to bury the theatrics. Instead, things pull apart from there.

Cuts such as “Shake Off the Curse” feature grrl-punk guitar grooves ripped straight out of The Distiller’s back-catalog. Swap Brody Dalle’s trademark swoon with Pulled Apart By Horses vocalist Tom Hudson’s screech, and you have Tough Love. It works, for anyone unfamiliar with ironic YouTube mashups. A few exceptions abound; “Epic Myth” and “Some Mothers” blend grunge, traditional punk tempo and harmonic pop seamlessly.

Regardless of what the future may hold for “Disco Metal” and its place in relevant, ‘alt’ music, Tough Love still stands as a decent entry for our generation’s obsessions with post-genre weirdness. The music, even when it doesn’t work, is danceable, tight. When it does, it’s terrific. Ambition, even when it fails to follow through, is still ambition–which for all its faults, makes Pulled Apart By Horses something of a band to admire.

Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love tracklist:

  1. “V.E.N.O.M.”
  2. “Wolf Hand”
  3. “Shake off the Curse”
  4. “Epic Myth”
  5. “Some Mothers”
  6. “Night of the Living (I’m Scared of People)”
  7. “Wildfire, Smoke & Doom”
  8. “Bromance Ain’t Dead”
  9. “Give Me a Reason”
  10. “Degeneration Game”
  11. “Everything Dipped in Gold”