Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews at 2KHz at Church Studios, Crouch End, London
There are bones being picked clean in Gabriel and the Hounds songs. They could very well be getting picked by the same hounds that lead singer Gabriel Levine is running with - that he's raising and training, that he's been patting on the head and thumping proudly on the ribs as they sit at his side. There is carnage littered about the ground, at the feet, broken people strewn here and there, in their various states of breakdown, and there are definitely buzzards and turkey vultures mingling around for their turns at the leftovers.
These are people who have been knocked down and hammered upon. They've had hands reach into them and have had vital organs torn from them, watching the entire thing unfold - a pumping heart here and some slithery guts there. They've somehow found themselves face-to-face with backstabbers and rattlesnakes in evening gowns, ready to kiss, able to make the kisses feel as if they were meant specifically for the receiving lips and then suddenly make them feel as if they were nothing but poisonous diversions.
There seems to be no end to the conniving doings of the people that Levine runs himself into. They are low-down and they are out to maim and hurt - oftentimes irrevocably, with viciousness to boot. "Just Not Like You" is a song that admits to some shared traits, but there's still a very distinct line that should be drawn: He'll admit to some indiscretions, but he'll be damned to admit that any of them would ever match up with the shit that you've pulled. There are all kinds of people who are half-alive, sometimes worse, in these songs. They're treated as if they had no blood in them and they were incapable of being hurt.
Levine makes the painful hurt very well known, however. "Congratulations" is nothing but an anti-celebratory yarn commemorating the accomplishments of another, in the fine art of heart-breaking and slander. "When We Die In South America" is further example of a person being needlessly snubbed out by another, by someone who originally seemed to have such good intentions and a pureness about them. Now, they're just walking through and amongst belongings, as if someone were already "dead and gone."