Quiet Hooves: Saddle Up!

Party Party Partners

In concert, skewed Athens collective Quiet Hooves operates with 12 members, give or take a few. For the band's latest album, Saddle Up!, it abandoned its existing approach and turned over the reins to one member alone, multi-instrumentalist Javier Morales, who transforms Quiet Hooves' ramshackle baroque pop into a singular, succinct work. Live, the band's fun, funky accompaniments to singer Julian Bozeman's mischievous, melodious tunes border on the vaudevillian. Here, Morales, a consummate fine-tuner, wipes out the songs' existing backgrounds and starts fresh. They're not remixes per se, but ground-up, reconstructed takes on the material. Given that Saddle Up! is essentially the product of two people, not 12, it's not surprising that it's infinitely more concise than Quiet Hooves' live show - which flirts at times with muddled obtuseness. What's shocking is the record's preciseness. It's delicate and bestial, dreamy and alive. Fans of pop music in any form would be remiss to miss it. (4 out of 5 stars)