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Horslips - Dancehall Sweethearts CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.78 | 26 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Leaving the Celtic a touch in the dust, but still picking up where they left off.

Horslips is a fascinating band, whether they're writing grand concept albums that piece together multiple songs to create a cycle that any prog fan will find to be on the same level as skill as the progressive megalodons, or they'll be creating a more modest concept that works around ''full-songs'' that are just as easy to enjoy. While this is definitely something that not every band can pull off, Horslips does it with such grace that you just never mind what they're doing, so long as they're doing it with those smooth Celtic melodies, their endless pools of inspiration or their somewhat quirky sense of humor.

Dancehall Sweethearts is a potentially dangerous album to follow up the deadly serious The Tain with, and is one that hard core proggers may put off buying thanks to the cover art alone. Fear not, for this is easily one of the band's best albums. It follows a loose concept, and it has plenty of songs on it to enforce the Celtic rule, and while that may not be as prominent this time around, it's still around to a high degree. It can be quickly said that all of the best songs on the albums are the ones that feel the Celtic love, but the others are quite good too - it just so happens that the best songs on this album are the best among all of Horslips catalog, so the others can get quite overshadowed. Still, the disc works on the whole - and was actually probably the best thing they could have followed up their sophomore with (even though something like The Book Of Invasions is closer in kin) since it shows another side of the band's songwriting prowess that would be heavily used on later albums, albeit less successfully.

Take three parts rock and one part pure folk and you get what amount to the most impressive of opuses in the album's best songs. The opening tune is a perfect example of things to come with its ringing riff and catchy development. Nighttown Boys may not hit you over the head with its more subtle elements right off the bat, but you'll likely be hearing them the second or third time around, and when you do you'll understand what makes this band such a good fit for our inclusive little club. Another standout on the first side is the stunning Sunburst which makes the best use of the grandiose side of things with its horns and female backups creating a much larger Horslips than we're used to, but it makes for a nice break, Horslips never being the kind of chaps to bore you with one thing for too long.

The second half is home to some very amazing tunes. First on the dock is Mad Pat, a progressive epic contained in the short span of 6-minutes that manages to bring to life everything the band does well. Perfect melodies, catchy segments that manage to stay successfully ''un-poppy'' while still being accessible and impressive instrumental sections that any pretentious prog master would be proud of. The instrumental The King Of Fairies is another quite impressive moment, despite its criminally short length of around 3-minutes, and llike instrumentals done by the band before it (The Silver Spear for instance), it's brought to life by as many Celtic instruments that you can possibly think of, while still diluting the folk side of things with a good dose of rock adrenaline shot right into the arm.

While this review may have fixated on a few songs over the rest there's no doubt that even after repeated listens you'll do the same. The rest of the songs on the album are also impressive and well worth the listen in their own rights, it's just that the shining moments of the disc shine so brightly that they are just very hard to best. Overall the disc is going to get a 4 out of 5 - while it may not be a masterpiece it certainly comes close. This album is recommended to anyone who has the chance to get it, and to all appreciators of the band or simple Celtic rock - seek out this album! You won't be disappointed.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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