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An Horse

Not Really Scared

(Valve; US: Available as import; UK: Unavailable; Australia release date: 6 May 2008)

“Like that good Hole album, I can live through this,” An Horse’s Kate Cooper sings on “Camp Out”, and it turns out to be a singularly appropriate reference. Not because there is anything on the Australian duo’s (drummer Damon Cox is the other half) debut EP that resembles the pained howl of Courtney Love’s most celebrated hour, but rather on account of how much Not Really Scared’s five songs recall the heyday of girl-fronted indie-guitar-rock bands that all to briefly flourished with Hole at the forefront. Cooper’s songs are sturdy, ringing and consistently tuneful, recalling many of the era’s shining lights without aping anyone’s particular quirks: hear Belly’s dense melodic atmosphere without any of Tanya Donnely’s fragile eccentricity, Liz Phair’s instinctive way around an elemental pop hook without her trademark wry deadpan, Veruca Salt’s knack for crafting super-sized choruses (to which the bounding, inexorable “Warm Hands” is the heir apparent) without Nina and Louise’s arena-rock snarl. Resolutely, and mercifully, song-focused, An Horse give us the best of both worlds by virtue of being the rare modern pop band that recognizes that gloss is not the same thing as refinement, and the rare indie-guitar band that understands that one-note minimalism an automatic stamp of true artistry. Fresh off of a hopefully profile-boosting tour with the equally deft Tegan and Sara, An Horse have proven themselves with Not Really Scared to be promising band well worth watching.

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