Review: feeble little horse – Girl with Fish


feeble little horse
Girl with Fish
Saddle Creek
Street: 06.09.23
feeble little horse = Soccer Mommy + A Fuzz Pedal + about three Coors Banquets 

Of the many current bands with “horse” in the name — Horsegirl, Horse Jumper of Love, Wunderhorse, Bonny Light Horseman and Horsey, to name a few —feeble little horse is by far my favorite, and have been stuck on my radar since their 2021 EP Modern Tourism and the song “i am smoking cigarettes again (Adrenaline, Etc)” made it’s way through unknown means. It was around that time that I, too, was smoking cigarettes again and could easily see myself in their music. And as a brief side note: I am not the first person to note the rise of horse-related band names, as Hayden Merrick of FLOOD Magazine wrote up a whole article on the phenomenon that you should certainly read

There is something to this four piece band that continues to evolve beyond the indie bedroom slowcore phase that we all seem to be going through. Their previous EP that I mentioned lacked their best piece in vocalist and bassist Lydia Slocum, who only joined for their first full-length album Hayday, which dropped five months after. Founding members Sebastian Kinsler (guitar) and Ryan Walchonski (another guitar), along with drummer Jake Kelley, started up in Pittsburgh, PA back in 2021 and instantly caught everyone’s attention with their signature shoe-gazy distortion mixed with Slocum’s soft and stinging vocals. Two months after Heyday, the band made it onto Stereogum’s Bands to Watch and landed a Pitchfork review which received a solid 7.4 (much of me still isn’t sure if a 7-8 in Pitchfork’s mind is good or just okay). This type of immediate stardom happens occasionally in the underground music scene and often results in the one hit wonders of the Soundcloud rap-era and even a hometown case with Ritt Momney. And yet, FLH delivers a sophomore project that is not only head and shoulders above their previous releases, but takes the band in a slightly new direction. 

FLH has always been about imperfect love and even less perfect sex that embodies a lot of young womanhood. The standout track “Freak” grinds its way louder and louder until submitting into a sweet track about loosely requited attraction. To me, this track illustrates how jock men, or more straightlaced men, are often attracted to “alternative” women, especially in high school and college. And though the narrator is interested, it’s not that important to her: “Maybe you’re not my type / but you can score when it’s overtime.” The song “Steamroller” expands on this theme but adds more visual elements: “Steamroller, you fuck like you’re eating / Your smile’s like lines in the concrete / Threw the towel in, I’m tired of baking / I’m the only one who sees me naked.” There’s a dead-eyed, automatic quality to this piece that causes the narrator to seemingly break off the connection, and while the narrator may be the only one that sees herself naked, this may be less literal. It could potentially mean that Slocum is the only one that sees her as a person when she’s naked. The rest of the tracks bounce between these same themes in a vignetted, kaleidoscopic way—like if Dennis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son was turned into a young adult album about longing. And just like Johnson, FLH sometimes writes a song just to paint a picture of Americana like they do in their final track “Heavy Water,” which is just a collection of images from North Eastern America: “Blue collar babies / With biblical names / Pre-paid boat rides / On the coast of Maine / Heavy water / We float over / If you like it / We can stay / Big sip, no choking / Tongue out for the rain / Soak down, avoid it / All to drown the same.” 

FLH’s strength lies their brevity, often keeping their tracks shorter than three minutes and often sneaking in a few sub-two minute tracks into their projects too. With only 11 tracks, the album is only 20 minutes, but those 20 minutes are powerful. The balancing on each track with fuzzy, blown-out guitar and the sweetness of Slocum’s vocals (and the occasional backing vocals of the band) are near perfect. Their sound, while true to the Philly underground indie scene, still manages to remain entirely unique. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia they’re able to capture in their lyrics, like they reach into your mind and root around the memories of your past messy relationships and come out ready to write a full album. Either way, this group is special and if they came out in ‘90s-’00s, you’d be sure to find their CD stuck in your friends car radio. Though this album has passed it’s one year anniversary, I look forward to the eventual third full-length album and tour announcement, praying that they come through SLC. In the mean time, y’all should go pick up a CD or some My Little Pony-themed merch. –wphughes

Read more national album reviews:
Review: Justice – Hyperdrama
Review: A.G. Cook – Britpop