I’ve grown weary of calling Borzoi one of the nation’s best live bands, not because it isn’t 100% true, but because I’ve long ago stopped making excuses for how their prior recordings failed to capture the full range of their muscularity, their absurdity or nearly boundless level of invention. Thankfully, though, others actually liked those recordings.
Of the Austin trio’s 2017 ‘Surrender The Farm’ EP, The Wire’s Byron Coley called the 7”, “very thudly” (“slams straight along like a cement truck full of corndogs”), while Yellow Green Red’s Matt Korvette hailed the band’s “mangy form of post-punky garage-rock, equipped with a nimble heaviness and plenty of dirt under the nails,” (“there’s no confusing their rough-and-tumble punk with noise or no-wave, and yet I feel like subtle hints of Sightings, Liars and Harvey Milk creep through. Borzoi run through a variety of tempos and moods on these four tracks, from inebriated and confused to spastic and scared.”)
(l-r : Zachary Wood, Rhys Woodruff, Taylor Browne. photo : Cesar Velasco)
On the way-too-long-in-the making, ‘A Prayer For War’ (expertly recorded by Ian Rundell, notable for recent works from Xetas, Spray Paint and Exhalants), I’m happy to confirm Borzoi are exponentially less mangy though improved production values have done nothing to quash the band’s idiosyncrasies. While fellow travelers plunder the early ’90’s Amp Rep catalog and perform spirited mimicry of The Year ____ Broke, Borzoi’s Rhys Woodruff (drums/vocals), Zachary Wood (guitar/vocals) and Taylor Browne (bass) are operating on another level altogether, and if completing a conceptual K.O. like this album hasn’t entirely cured them of self-saboteur moves (ie. blatantly lying about where they’re from — though under the circumstances, can you blame them?), they’ve set an awfully high bar for what any remaining deep thinkers might attempt, lyrically or musically (though truth be told, their fixation with life during wartime is no easier to figure out than whatever Wood comes up with on the guitar). ‘A Prayer For War’ takes Borzoi’s truculent worldview and glues it to accompaniment that’s as dazzling as it is confounding. You’ll be tempted to call the trio of Wood, Woodruff and Browne a well-oiled machine, but unless you’re comparing them to an Koenigsegg Agera RS, you’re selling them very short.