Behold A Pale Horse
Written by: Griffin Fillipitch
Many themes run throughout Behold, a Pale Horse, but accessibility might be the most unifying one. Thomas is innovative and even fearless at times, but she does not fear pop. If anything, pop should fear her- as she exploits it with predatory precision.
Behold, a Pale Horse is the second studio album from Ebony Bones, the stage name of British singer-songwriter-producer Ebony Thomas. It takes its name from a quote in the Book of Revelation. That's the book where things go bananas, and not in a fun Gwen Stefani/Laffy Taffy sort of way.
Given this source material, the ominous charge of the introductory title track is not a huge surprise. Strings from the Mumbai Symphony Orchestra warble in a minor key while drums thunder underneath. There is a surprisingly beautiful transition when this track blends seamlessly into the next one, “I See I Say,” which samples the string progression from the previous song and throws down a mean distorted vocal vamp. It's hear where one starts to see where Ebony Bones’ influences may lie; with the likes of M.I.A’s Kala or later Santigold.
But that doesn't last too long. M.I.A. comparisons may come in handy, since Thomas does have British citizenship and a knack for biting hooks (she also uses a ton of acronyms), but relying on these relationships are not totally apt. She is more interested in the juncture of art-pop and punk than house and hip-hop.
Still, each of those genres gets at least a moment on Behold, a Pale Horse. It's dark and heavy feeling all the way through, but varied in its darkness and weight. “Bread & Circus” blends the intro's strings (one of several motifs on the album) with an airy, lively funk guitar line. The next song, “Morphine For the Masses,” takes the same strings and turns them into an unapologetic trap beat.
Ms. Bones is not afraid of experimentation, but she's not afraid of anthems either. Covering The Smiths with “What Difference Does It Make” reaches arena-rock heights with the New London Children's Choir, which is immediately followed by an industrial drum ‘n’ bass beat with Sleigh Bells like guitar on “Neu World Blues.” Additionally, the piano outro on “I.N.V.I.N.C.I.B.L.E” is so catchy and self-serious, it's a surprise that Rihanna didn't snatch it for her own. “While the People S.L.E.E.P” is a dance/punk amalgamation that could and should be a huge crossover hit (and maybe one of the best songs of the year).