NPR logo Rock Plaza Central: Out of the Mouths of Horses

Rock Plaza Central: Out of the Mouths of Horses

My Children, Be Joyful

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "My Children, Be Joyful"
  • Artist: Rock Plaza Central
  • CD: Are We Not Horses
  • Genre: Folk-Pop

Rock Plaza Central crafts a concept album about the "apocalyptic daydreams of six-legged robotic horses." hide caption

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The Canadian folk-pop group Rock Plaza Central isn't afraid to get thematically ambitious: The band's self-released Are We Not Horses is a concept album about the "apocalyptic daydreams of six-legged robotic horses," who believe they are real horses and find themselves caught in a war between humans and angels. Fans of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Decemberists ought to find much to admire in the band's lush instrumentation, not to mention Chris Eaton's slightly deranged, emotive vocals.

The focal point of the anthemic "My Children, Be Joyful" is the delicate interplay between the strings and the fanfare of trumpets, as the steady tambourine and crashing cymbals intensify the song's near-religious fervor. "Be joyful / my children, be joyful" is repeated like a mantra — as if the repetitions could cause happiness through force of will — while the sound of blissful voices singing "ba ba ba" bubbles up to the surface. As the instrumentation swells to an intoxicating climax, the song slows to a close, with a single violin sounding a triumphant melody.

Are We Not Horses would probably fall flat were it not for Rock Plaza Central's rich arrangements, which on "My Children, Be Joyful" draw from banjos, trumpets, accordions and more. Even though the words come from the perspective of a metaphorical (and robotic) horse, the sentiment seems universal enough to be felt by anyone.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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