Perhaps this explains why, midway through the touring cycle for their last album, Tough Love, they pulled the plug on a planned UK jaunt that was ambitious in scale, and instead bought themselves enough time to experiment and try new things for album number three. Now that it’s here, there’s no real question that it was time well spent; opener “Hot Squash” is very Queens of the Stone Age when it comes to guitarist James Brown’s riffs, but frontman Tom Hudson is on utterly uninhibited vocal form, and it’s this dichotomy that plays out throughout the record - it’s controlled chaos, so once one feature of a track is allowed to rage ahead unabated, there’s another that’s keeping things together in calculated fashion.

Recent single “Lizard Baby” moves with what can reasonably be considered trepidation by Horses standards, before exploding into a raucous chorus; they’ve allowed themselves to do what their long-time tourmates Blood Red Shoes have made a living off of the back of, by writing a pop song that’s disguised as a punk track with all manner of menacing distortion. “Hello Men”, meanwhile, comes over like some grungy, aggressive take on a Disintegration-era effort by The Cure, bubbling with the kind of atmosphere that the band have certainly shot for in the past, but never quite captured so sharply. There’s still some rough and ready cuts here that hark back to the band’s early days - “Bag of Snakes” is precisely two minutes of fizzing guitars and unrefined vocals, whilst “You Want It” is scored through with that same, barely-controlled tension that Hot Snakes made their hallmark - but they still fit nearly with the overall sound of the album; they haven’t been included merely to appease old-school fans.

And that, really, is where Blood’s real triumph lies; where Tough Love, which was recorded in quick-fire fashion, felt like little more than a grab bag of straightforward punk tracks and weak stabs at experimentation, Blood serves as evidence that the band’s decision to take their time has paid serious dividends; there’s real intelligence in the restraint that they’ve shown on the likes of “Medium Rare”, and by the time you reach closer “Golden Monument”, you realise that the entire album’s been planned with that level of conscientiousness; suddenly, this is no longer the band that’s been boasting about punching lions in the throat, but instead one of the smartest bands to occupy a position on the heavier side of British rock.