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Aussie duo An Horse keep it smart and simple



Brisbane indie-pop duo An Horse are proof that just because you sing about feelings and stuff doesn't mean you have to be dull.

For instance, you could playfully title one of your songs "Scared as Fuck," and begin that song with the lyrics, "I'm not really scared / I just like the way that those words sound / When they fall from my mouth." Then, just to prove you're more than a smartass with a guitar, you could spend the rest of the song in a fidgety back-and-forth with fears both big and trivial, so that by the time you've taken us to the fitful (and way catchy) sing-along at the end—all together now, "I'm not really scared, I'm not really scared"—it's clear that you're lying through your teeth but that, like the rest of us, you're doing your best to take comfort in the lie.

It's something like mastery, the way An Horse variously toe and fumble over the line between earnest longing and cheeky observation. One second, frontwoman Kate Cooper is singing, "You can take my socks / But you damn well better leave my gloves" like she's got her elbow in your ribs, and the next she's trying to rein in those everyday anxieties: "It's times like these I think too much / Please don't think too much."

The band's utilitarian approach—not much to get in the way of guitar, drums and great melodies—makes their album Re-Arrange Beds a treat. Its focus on fuzzy guitars, gliding chord progressions and smart lyricism might remind a listener of a certain vintage of bands—Velocity Girl and The Spinanes come to mind as convenient, if imperfect, touchstones—or, if you're feeling sinister, a less calculated, less hype-saturated time in indie rock.

"I got so scared," Cooper sings, "That you might be a better me than me"—perhaps referring to the phenomenon she describes via email as the band crosses Canada on tour: "Nashville has a great record store that is really similar to the record store [drummer Damon Cox] and I worked in," she says. "Grimey's? Is that what it is called? It's funny because every time we head into a record store together we pick out who I am and who Damon is and our other old co-workers. Sometimes the resemblance is uncanny."

Doppelgangers or not, the band come to Nashville relatively fresh off a performance of their signature song, "Camp Out" on Late Night With David Letterman (slightly altered, so as to avoid using the F-word on-air), and bring a catalog of snappy songs along with them.

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