Heel knappe, dromerige countrypop gedragen door een fluweelzachte stem en prachtige 'americana' klinkende gitaren. Dat we dit uit Estland binnenkrijgen is toch wel verrassend.
Horse verschijnt op 16 oktober via Wharf Cat Records.
Luister ook naar: Live performance - Nox Orae 2019
Though their music has often been tied to the traditions of Americana and American roots music, Holy Motors were formed in Tallinn, Estonia in 2013, when founding member Lauri Raus (songwriter and one of the band’s three guitarists) recruited Eliann Tulve, just 16 at the time, to join the band as songwriter and lead vocalist. With Tulve’s gorgeously foreboding vocals serving as a ballast for the guitar section’s “infinity-pool-style shimmer” (Pitchfork) the band quickly became as un-ignorable as they were inscrutable, rising from the ranks of eager supporting act (for Low, at SXSW) to sought after headliner (at NYC underground-meets-above-ground mainstay Berlin) in just a matter of days during their first unofficial tour of the US in 2018.
That same year marked the release of their critically acclaimed debut LP, Slow Sundown, on New York City’s Wharf Cat Records, an album that garnered praise and airplay not just in the band’s native Estonia (where it won Tallinn’s Music Week award and a nomination for Debut Album of the Year by the Estonian Music Awards), but also via a battery of publications west of the Baltic, including Stereogum (Album of the Week), Bandcamp (Album of the Day), and DIY (Neu Pick). All this momentum went so far as to capture the attention of one of the band’s very own idols, Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, who approached them after seeing a live performance in Berlin and would go on to produce a handful of tracks for the band in 2019 as well as join them for their set at Switzerland’s Festival Nox Orae (you can watch the full set here) during a summer itinerary dotted with European music festivals.
But rather than being blunted and worn down by the tumultuous forces of success, Holy Motors’ incongruence has instead grown all the more prevalent and endearing. They remain musicians from an ex-Soviet country producing music that has been described as “cowboy dream-pop with a dark side” (Interview Magazine), “shoegaze that sounds like the old West” (The Fader), and like “a twang-filled soundtrack to... cowboy melancholy” (Beat). The resulting mystique is an inalienable part of the band’s DNA, stemming from the shared infatuation with the American West that the members developed waiting out Estonia’s long, grim winters with the warm company of American western films (Badlands and Paris, Texas amongst their favorites) and their instruments. What began as an innocent fascination evolved into a sincere embodiment of that dreamy, melancholy cowboy aura, both in their music and persona as a band.
Now at 22 years old, Eliann Tulve resembles Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval reincarnated as an Estonian cowgirl. She is enigmatic as ever but stands more firmly alongside co-songwriter Lauri Raus, the solidification of their roles perhaps accounting for the more hopeful turn their songwriting has taken of late. Horse finds the band acknowledging the Americana and rockabilly strands of their musical DNA without sacrificing any of the otherworldly mystique that keeps them from neatly conforming to the shoegaze and dreampop labels often applied to their music.