Album Review: The Eskies — And Don’t Spare the Horses

From the moment I saw the email with the subject line “Part Folk/Rock/Yiddish/Blues Group” in my inbox, I have been intrigued by The Eskies. Rarely does one ever see such an eclectic mix of genres describing the sound of one singular band. But, somehow, The Eskies make it all come to gather on their second album, And Don’t Spare the Horses, which was released on December 1st.

The sound of this Dublin-based quintet is one full of flair and theatricality. Belwood Music reviewer, James Fenney, described it with the most imaginative, yet perfect description: “their exuberant brand of gypsy folk sounds like it was concocted during a recording session between The Decemberists and a bunch of Disney villains, and fueled by copious amounts of alcohol.” My personal favorite track from this album, “I’d Rather Be Lonely,” oozes sleaze, but shows the band at their most theatrical; with strong vocals and roaring instrumentation, you really hear the band’s strengths on this track.

According to the band, the content of the album is just as enlivening. “Melodramatic tales of woe, betrayal, conflict, upheaval, rebellion, love, loss, fear and anger,” they said in their press release promoting this new album. “All wrapped in tongue-in-cheek irreverence and self-deprecation, occasionally giving way to a flurry of triumphalism or whisper of introspection.” And I would have to agree; you can hear threads of these themes throughout the entire album. However, despite the stories being just as dramatic as the band’s sound, the lyrics themselves don’t quite reach the same level. None of the lyrics on any of the 11 tracks stood out to me or became something I wanted to memorize and quote. They felt a little basic compared to everything else The Eskies bring to the album.

But the simple lyrics are something I can overlook. When The Eskies are at the height of their powers, they are a joy to listen to. Their unique sound is consistently colorful, electrifying and compelling from beginning to end. I’m sure these new tunes will continue to make for nothing but the most infectious live shows as the band sets out to promote their new music.

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