Nothing short of brilliant, Are We Not Horses sends its complex concept to listeners with twelve tracks of sonic bliss. Its troubadour-pop, neo-chamber folk-rock sound is the perfect platform for the ambiguous story of giant, robotic horses. The tale of a war of man versus angels with the steel horses caught in the middle shifts from low-key and scaled down ballads (“Fifteen Hands”) to grandly orchestrated compositions (“My Children Be Joyful”). Overall, the band’s closest comparison lies with Neutral Milk Hotel, and they are deserving of that honor. The sound of violin weeping (played by Fiona Stewart) offset by a brass section allows this clever mix to rest outside any restrictions or rules. Requiems and calls to arms fill the same space with both evoking emotions involving tears. One of the most dramatic lines (from “Anthem for the Already Defeated”) reads “and we’ll shake our rumps with bloody stumps and we cannot be defeated,” becoming an anthem for the everyman.
Alluded to in Rock Plaza Central’s previous album, The World Was Hell to Us, the concept follows a loose plot line based on guitarist and quirky-voiced lead singer Chris Eaton’s short stories. Equally chilling and inspirational, the music itself succeeds in a record most bands can only dream of creating.