Over the years Tex Perkins has become a versatile musician, a gun for hire traveling from one band project to another tribute show and so on. Beasts Of Bourbon has been revisited though Cruel Sea hasn’t but a group that Perkins keeps returning to and one where he sounds the most relaxed and free from expectations is The Dark Horses. On album number three the band continue to mine the depths of atmospheric desolation, heavy emotion, bruised beauty and grace.
The scene is set from the outset with what sounds like wind on an empty plain and a car starting in the distance as a lonely whistle serenades the barren landscape. As soon as the band fall in behind and Perkins enters the fray the immediacy of their sound (testament to the production as much as the songs and performances) is apparent. Up close, intimate and cocoon-like it feels warm and inviting, irrespective of the melancholic subject matter. Musically The Dark Horses work a tight ship with clear allocation of responsibilities. The drums march on solemnly, Stephen Hadley’s bass provides the weight and anchor while Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen disperse frayed and bleeding guitar solos over Murray Paterson’s acoustic guitar meditations.
The album reaches it’s peak with the one/two shot of ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They’ and ‘Slide On By’. The former possesses a heavenly chorus like a darker take on Neil Young’s Harvest Moon while the start of ‘Slide On By’ is again reminiscent of Young, this time his Dead Man soundtrack. With a lost and aching harmonica it’s possibly the band’s finest moment, both heart-wrenching and strangely uplifting in a perverse way as it winds and crawls over eight atmospheric minutes. If you can imagine it, Tunnel At The End Of The Light sounds like an amalgam of Mad Season and Jo Meares’ excellent album of last year. It never allows the personality of any one individual to overshadow the collective sound, mood and transportive qualities of the music.
this review was first published on FasterLouder