A Formal Horse - Made In Chelsea album review

A thoroughbred winner from Brit avant-rock combo.

A Formal Horse - Made In Chelsea album artwork

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

The third release from Southampton’s Horse finds them in a typically idiosyncratic and sonically adventurous mood on this five-track EP.

Underpinned by the energetic power trio of Benjamin Short (guitar), Russell Mann (bass) and Mike Stringfellow (drums), new vocalist Hayley McDonnell’s cut-glass diction is a serene still point amid tunes that are knotty and fractious yet also revel in an ebullience that’s almost carefree. Possessing an appealingly quirky logic that thinks nothing of leaping between barbed, bulldozing riffs to delicate introspection, there are moments occasionally evoking the melodicism of classic-era Yes or some of Crimson’s more feverishly angular episodes. However such comparisons are but fleeting signposts, as AFH are very much their own beast. Though the galloping guitar lines that effortlessly traverse shifting meters might well bear all the expected hallmarks of an avant-rock sensibility, they also possess the wit and capacity to perform vibrant, uplifting tunes. When, during Made In Chelsea (Apocalypse in 158) McDonnell’s voice, with a slightly manic edge, implores ‘Adore me’ through tempestuous forces generated by the band, it’s a command that’s impossible to resist.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.