by Jack Ognibene
Pittsburgh slacker rock group Feeble Little Horse returns with their highly anticipated sophomore effort, Girl with Fish. After making a huge splash in the underground with tracks like “Chores” and “Picture” on their first record Hayday in 2021 (which had some hits but, admittedly, was a little hit or miss), there was a long wait to see where the band would bring their sound next. Luckily, it seems that they have progressed in all of the right ways. There are some genuinely incredible tracks on Girl with Fish that showcase the band’s ability to create extremely catchy, intimate moments through songwriting.
A great example of this is on the opening track, “Freak,” which seems to be a song about a girl teasing a boy for whom she has a mutual interest in a really fun and endearing way. Lydia Slocum’s vocals on this track are so extremely sweet and somewhat innocent sounding, which lends a certain young, playful atmosphere to the song. This is heavily contrasted with the harsh, almost shoegaze-like guitar tones. However, the mixing on this album is so incredible that the two work in tandem extremely well instead of clashing with each other. This is also the case for “Sweet,” which not only has a harsh but well-mixed guitar riff but also has some amazing duet work throughout the track. This song has a distinct momentum to it, and this is especially true during the overwhelming wall of sound that is the chorus. This particular sound stays fairly consistent throughout the record, and considering how well the band pulls it off it does not overstay its welcome by any means.
The musical quality that Feeble Little Horse truly excels at above all else, however, is catchiness. There are so many songs that have either a very infectious hook, vocal delivery, or guitar melody that listeners will find themselves humming to for months on end. A good example of this is “Tin Man,” which might just be in the running for the best guitar work that this band has pulled off. It has an incredibly catchy riff that honestly is difficult to tell how they pulled off or what tuning the guitar recording was in. This song has some poignant analogies involving the tin man from The Wizard of Oz, seeming as though the narrator of the song sees their partner as a sort of rusty tin man who, for lack of a better word, is a fixer-upper. Another extremely catchy song is “Paces,” which has an incredible, very carefree-sounding vocal melody during the verse. The guitar on this track also has a sort of vibrato quality to it, which adds a lot of depth.
The one single detraction that could be levied at this album is its brevity. At 26 minutes, it is an extremely watertight listen with very few moments of boredom, but does leave the listener craving more. There are certain songs on the record that definitely could have been expanded upon to extend the length and unfold new ideas within the timeframe of this record - namely “Healing,” which has every quality going for it except for how it feels underdeveloped after its quick ending. However, the material that is on the record is extremely solid, and in some cases makes up for how brief the album ended up being.
Feeble Little Horse proved themselves to be among the most exciting acts in the current underground indie rock scene with this album, and it will definitely be exciting to watch them grow over time. They are already at a very good point in terms of their musical evolution as it stands, but they will continue to build their ethos of simple, good music as time goes on, and it will be extremely exciting to see how their growth as artists affect their sound. For now, though, Girl with Fish serves as a great, albeit brief, release from this up-and-coming band.