Album Review: Gift Horse by Debrider

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Opening shuttered closet doors, I confronted the mound of pastel, cut crystal animal figurines. Sunlight shot through their angles, sending out beams of fractured light into shimmering rainbows across the walls. Stepping over them, I was guided out into a backyard picnic of cats, all colors and ages, sipping tea and blowing bubbles out across the fields. Pulling me out to play with them, there I danced and blew bubbles too, floating with them against the sky until my eight-year-old eyelashes fluttered open to begin a day I knew would never be as lovely as that dream.


Years ago I willed myself to stay asleep, knowing I was dreaming and also knowing the memory I have now would never be as brilliant as that moment, but with Gift Horse I don’t have to choose. Listening to Gift Horse, the crafted undream from Debrider, I saw those translucent bubbles and baubles against my closed eyelids.

Sweetly gritty soundscapes pervade the scant six tracks of the album. On the title track and opener, “Gift Horse,” the light guitar that begins the song breaks away into a layered effect with choral voices and the engaging repetition of lyrics. That scalloped effect of voices piling on voices piling on rhythmic melodies and flowing drums builds up the album and truly shines on the title track.


Breaking through the dreamscape comes a bit of reality in “Billie Holiday,” a semi-cover track of Mary Wells’s “My Guy.” With a uniquely owned interpretation of the classic 1960’s girl group song, Debrider presents a scant bit of the reality we know so thoroughly shrouded in their own created atmosphere that it barely registers on the listener and adds to their depth of sound rather than pulling the listener outward.

With its undeniably seductive sound, Gift Horse is a middle of the night album for when you can’t go back to sleep, an album for dancing alone in the dark when you’re heartbroken or for when you’re so carefree and loose about letting go of an ex and their garbage baggage.


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