Published Jul 13, 2017Dreamy, fuzzy music is a well-explored niche, and thus, one that takes creativity and nuance to keep fresh. At their best, See Through Dresses manage to distinguish themselves on Horse of the Other World, but ultimately end up blending into the genre's well-established background.
The percussion of the album is steady and driving, with similarities to the War on Drugs. The guitar moves between twinkly and dreamy and more fuzzy shoegaze sounds, while the synthesizers are often nondescript (though on "Catacombs," there's a growling bass sound that propels the song nicely). Vocally, Matthew Carroll has a fairly narrow range, and a breathy quality that makes it hard for him to stand out from the instrumentals here. Sara Bertuldo has a more pleasant, striking voice that cuts through more easily, landing somewhere between Alvvays' Molly Rankin and No Joy's Jasamine White-Gluz.
Her lyrics also stand out. "I'll be your girl, but I've been so mean / I want to belong to anything at all" is more powerful than Carroll's efforts to be poetic; he seems to lean towards lack of repetition and modernist references, but his voice is too muffled for them to be anything but an endnote curiosity.
Horse of the Other World drags when its pace slows down ("Light in August" is truly a slog). Its best moments — "Herbivore" for example — come when the band break away from dreamy fuzz and move towards more intricate rock riffs, boosted by Bertuldo's vocals. "Lucy's Arm" is a good showing for Carroll, bringing intensity and enunciation. If See Through Dresses can keep this sense of urgency on their next record, it could truly stand out; unfortunately, Horses doesn't. (Tiny Engines)