October 12, 2016

Kuroma: The Dark Horse Rides Again Review

(Votiv) Chances are you’ve heard Hank Sullivant’s music before—he was a founding member of once-local garage-rock trio The Whigs and a touring member of indie-pop stars MGMT. While the popularity of those bands surged, Sullivant’s Kuroma project flew under the radar. On his latest release, The Dark Horse Rides Again, his conversion to Catholicism and gradual writing pace inform a potent batch of melodic, texture-driven psych-pop tunes.

While there’s much to compare to Kuroma’s psychedelic peers, like Tame Impala and Melody’s Echo Chamber, there’s more to be said about Sullivant’s playful and varied approach to songwriting. Dark Horse hits the ground running and rarely revisits the same territory, oscillating between kinetic barnburners (“A Day With No Disaster,” “Tennessee Walker”), angelic ballads (the supreme “Perfect Girl,” “I Don’t Know What I Should Do”) and smooth sailers (“Lucky Man,” “Uprising”). Additionally, Sullivant’s airy tenor compliments his songwriting well, bringing a lightness to his subject matter: religion, marriage, fatherhood.

Dark Horse is Kuroma’s most eloquently executed record to date. By allowing each song to simmer, piecing together the best takes from demos and tracking sessions and finding the perfect mix, the band energetically made a personal statement universal, giving plenty of reason why the group should be more than a blip on the radar going forward.