Horse Jumper of Love, the Boston-based slowcore band, has most certainly contributed to the indie-rock music scene in the second half of the 2010s. A band I’ve closely followed for a number of years, Horse Jumper of Love has never failed at providing me with comforting music filled with relatable lyrics about love, loss and hope. Their self-titled second studio album, released on March 11, 2016, has had an unparalleled grip on my late teenage years — this album changed my life, and also changed the way I view rock music. The words on the album cover speak for themself: “There was a tiny cactus on my desk. I was angry and I smashed it down. The poor fucking cactus didn’t do anything. I kept the needles in my fist all afternoon. I left the pieces of the pot and the dirt on the floor for weeks, until my mom finally picked it up.”
We go through so many emotionally turbulent moments in our youth, and yet we never, not once, pause and heal from them. The business of life consumes every single one of us and never allows us to sit and just think with ourselves. In my early teenage years, I avoided confronting my emotions; if I was feeling anything other than happiness, I’d find a way to keep my mind busy by thinking about something else. As I approached the age of 15, I began to value my own company. I began to truly enjoy being alone. With this newfound desire to be alone came a greater understanding of the things I stuffed in the back of my brain. I gained an emotional intelligence I would not have otherwise acquired if not for my daily secluded time. Most of this time was filled with listening to music and reading books, and I can confidently say that my enjoyment of solitude has shaped me into who I am today.
I like to think of the cactus as my teenage heart. I used to beat myself up over the smallest of things, constantly finding reasons to not give myself credit for all that I accomplished. I’d blame myself for so many of the emotions I experienced, and yet, I deserved none of this self-hatred. I needed help from others to build me back up, and that’s what I ended up having to seek out. After I healed from this all, I came to love who I am. This album was there for me in this time of self-discovery, and I will be eternally grateful for that.
“Horse Jumper Of Love” is a true rock masterpiece. There is a wide variety of instrumentals featured on this album, and the muffled singing provides listeners with a sense of intimacy, almost as if lead singer Dimitri Giannopoulos is performing right in front of you. The opening track, “Ugly Brunette,” embodies the essential Horse Jumper of Love sound as Giannopoulos sings, “I’ll be patient / With you that’s the way / The garden grows.” My dad has always taught me that good things take time, that you can’t rush greatness. This line solidifies my dad’s teachings. Love has played an integral part in my teenage years, and coming to terms with heartbreak and letdowns is something I make sure to do when things go awry. Love is a garden — there is no feasible or healthy way to speed up the growth of your goods. Goodness takes time and requires much patience.
The following tracks, “July 5th” and “Bagel Breath,” reveal the band’s great instrumentation. “July 5th” is undoubtedly the most “slowcore-esque” song of this entire album; it’s heavy, dreary and is a song I often fall asleep to. The album’s fourth track, “Spaceman,” features lyrics such as, “I talk with your teeth / Kiss you through my shirt / Spaceman feels good,” a sort of ode to teenage love in all of its messiness and confusion.
The sixth track, “I Want To Paint Horses… And To Have A Horse,” serves as an instrumental to the album. It’s composed of synth beats and ambient background noises. In the YouTube comment section of this song, user Nigel Baldin writes, “Sounds like portishead. Dont mind portishead but this is way better, so mellow, so soothing.”
The following track, “DIRT,” is my second favorite song off the album. The slow drumming and drawn-out guitar strumming at the beginning of the track feel surreal, and once the song hits its 2:57 mark, an insane drop arrives; each time I hear it, I become slightly numb.
The jump from “DIRT” to “Sun Poisoning” is one of my favorite moments of the album. “Sun Poisoning” features lyrics such as, “The timing of light is always right, the sensitivity / Will make whirring machines that take the place of your eyes” and “I couldn’t stand to / Be the ghost in you / I couldn’t touch you / Without hurting the bruises.”
The second-to-last track, “i love you very much forever,” is a haunting track with incredible lyricism. Giannopoulos sings, “Don’t say a word I’d like to remember you as a reflection,” something all too familiar to those that have experienced heartbreak. Sometimes, when things go wrong with the one you once loved, you desire to pause at one last happy moment so the memories aren’t tainted with the painful ending.
The album’s final track, “Orange Peeler,” is easily my favorite song off the whole album, and also one of the most impactful songs I’ve ever heard. The lyrics in this song are extremely well thought out; my favorites are, “You think of me, I’ll think of you as a place, as a home” and “The fruit was rotten but the dirt was expensive, that’s all nature meant to me” — a connection to the album’s opening track. If you have not heard this song before, please listen to it immediately; you will not be the same person afterward.