My Grey Horse have covered a lot of ground and turned many heads on the blogosphere in a relatively short amount of time. The music videos that accompany singles such as the bright and breezy ‘Waste of Air’ and the restlessly upbeat ‘Let Me Know (About The Waves)’ present us with a delightfully twee depiction of Middle England whilst straddling elements of Canadian and American indie, lo-fi and acoustic music. While an ongoing string of enjoyable singles would appear to be the most effective plan of attack for the Stratford band, their second EP, The Marley Banks, uses its longer format to ask what appears to be a larger question: do we look back upon our youth through rose-tinted spectacles? These beautifully constructed songs are certainly adept at lulling you into a false sense of security as the seemingly carefree abandon of adolescence is instantly conjured by the summery melodies, fuzzy guitar textures and effortless vocal harmonies. These tracks could quite easily soundtrack memories of hazy evenings, campfires, and lazy pub visits.
Like any good Wes Anderson movie however, there is a real emotional depth lurking beneath the carefully considered pastel colours of turtleneck sweaters coupled with songs that seem cute and catchy on the surface. The confusing cocktail of youthful nostalgia mixed with regret that abounds during one’s twenties is a theme that is put forward in a remarkably sincere and honest way and ‘You’ll Never Learn’ is perhaps the finest example of this emotional balancing act. It’s swirling, acoustic introduction gives way to a lush and climactic pop song where everything, instrumentally and lyrically, builds and blends together seamlessly.
A small quote from the band, which was used in the EP’s press release, states that “The EP is quite sentimental in its own way; The Marley Banks was a place we used to play as kids, so it seemed to fit.” Both aspects of positive and negative reflections upon childhood are similarly reflected in John Butler’s artwork that depicts an idyllic and untouched rural haven: The Marley Banks shows us the mouth of a river leading towards a large expanse of water reaching beyond the horizon. In reality however, the Marley Banks is nothing more than a small bridge that “smells like garlic.”
While we may be older, My Grey Horse deftly suggest in just over twenty minutes that we are definitely none the wiser. ‘About Time’ suggests that “given half the chance we’ll make the same mistakes each and every time.” While it may appear something easy and digestible upon the first few listens, The Marley Banks is far more than simply a throwaway, catchy record, but something that is instead more enduring and memorable.
Released on 13th February 2012