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Super Extra Bonus Party – Night Horses

3 Comments 25 May 2009

I was one of those people who managed to be both surprised at Super Extra Bonus Party’s self-titled debut winning the 2007 Choice Music Prize and yet not terribly shocked that the panel decided to award its completely un-Irish eclecticism. For me the album ran the gauntlet of indie-electronic ambiance to aggressive dance without establishing a cohesive trademark sound that distinguished a sonic identity for the band.

As loathe as I am to award a ‘grading’ to music, to me it was a 3/5 – the promise shown by tracks like immense Everything Flows wasn’t realised consistently throughout. Overall the LP was a refreshingly innovative if somewhat frustrating at times.

Step forward the ‘difficult second album’ Night Horses. Opening track Super Team Go! is an upbeat kick-off all wailing solo, distortion and drums – a tight starter that’s bound to be heard as background music on an RTÉ ad soon (that IS a compliment, honest!). Radar is an excellent lead single, the collaboration with Cadence Weapon reminds me of Why?’s Alopecia while Who Are You And What Do You Want (a collaboration with RSAG) sounds like the ghosts of Ian Curtis and David Byrne groaning to the listener through ambient beat driven electro-indie.

It’s not just the collaborations that stand out (Fight Like Apes’ MayKay comes across all Siouxsie Sioux in Eamonn and Heathers also make an appearance), and it’s certainly not just the ‘party’ numbers that impress. 2 is a heartbreaking, delicate little number that floats along with almost ancient oriental style string pluckings. A Midnight Summer’s Disco is a dream like outro to ‘Night Horses,’ which, like SEBP’s debut, is a hard album to review due to its sheer variety. As Ronan once said to me, a SEBP album is like a compilation LP performed by the one band. There are too many ideas here for any one overall sound to emerge, but ‘Night Horses’ is none the worse for it, and each track on its own stands up fairly well.

The eclecticism of this album is more cohesive, if that makes any sense, than the self-titled debut, with the rougher edges ironed out to produce a much tighter, layered effort. The multitude of ideas that are scatter-shot on the debut are more focused second time around. Night Horses definitely emerges as the much stronger of the two LPs by SEBP and those with any doubts should definitely give it a listen before passing their judgement on the band.

This is well worth checking out and is up there with David Kitt as one of my favourite Irish LPs of the year so far.


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3 Comments so far

  1. Nay says:

    Excellent review, you have it bang on with the compilation metaphor. There are so many members with differing tastes that there’s no way any two songs can sound the same.
    I really like the eponymous track but don’t really hear the Why? influence on Radar…such a good tune though, and the music makes me think this is what the concentrated imagination of SEBP really sounds like.
    When I heard there were so many guest collaborations I was slightly worried that they were using the names as a gimmick to draw in more fans but actually think all the songs really suit the singers. I don’t think this is the band at their best, though. They’ll get even better.

  2. alfie wonderlove says:

    Night Horses has to be a contender for Irish album of the year.I agree with your comments about the eclecticism of it.I think their first album was brilliant also and people who have dismissed it obviously didn’t give it enough of a listen.Many of the tracks are gems.It’s amazing the wide range in difference of opinion over what were the outstanding tracks on the first album.What one person picked as standouts were dismissed in favour of others. I hear something new every time I listen to it.This may seem like a strange comparison,but many people didn’t get “Father Ted” first time out either.But with repeated watching and the familiarity with the material the penny dropped and people realised how rich and multi-layered the material was.Ditto for SEBP.

  3. scoffey148 says:

    Personally I adore both of their albums. This was a very rounded and thoughtful review however I do not entirely agree with the compilation theory, especially when thinking of Night Horses although I can certainly see where your coming from.

    One of the things that makes SEBP so very special is the fact that they are so eclectic and energetic but somehow manage to NOT sound disjointed. Perhaps if you gave the albums a few more listens you might know what I mean.

    That said, I think we can all agree the new album Night Horses is a gem and that it is definitely the album that will shut the mouths of all the narrow minded begrudgers that unfortunately infest the Irish music scene. Its about time sebp got the respect they’ve undoubtedly earned from the whole Irish music community. If theres any justice, they will be huge.

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