Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Horrors - Primary Colours (XL2009)

The Horrors are a constant delightful surprise. Their visual aesthetic and look-at-me appearances in the style presses and the gutter presses have almost painted a picture of a group of posers more concerned with the tightness of their trousers over the ink in their creative nibs. ‘Strange House’ their debut was a curate’s freakbeat egg of short twitchy punky horrorcore songs. ‘Primary Colours’, their sophomore effort, arrives on a wave of expectation. Journalists are frakking themselves with a level of intensity reserved for new Radiohead albums with excitement. And you know what? It’s just. This is easily top ten albums of the year material. Already decided. Already essential. Already unmissable. Download-only first single, ‘Sea Within Sea’ is a dizzying 8 minute work of sheer class that whips itself up into a deafening wall of sound as the song pounds towards its crescendo. Former Geldof paramour, Farris, now sounds like a macabre Paul Adams (Interpol), androgynous yet menacing, power-hungry and tightly wound, and vulnerable yet triumphant like Ian Curtis, a heady mix of the two distinct vocalists. Musically, they are tighter and tougher, eschewing the B-movie shonky freaky pop of their debut for something bigger, The Cure, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Psychedelic Furs and the dark black clad British rock of these bands’ peers. Keyboardist, Spider Webb, through his experimentations with Radiophonic soundscapes and keys on his Spider Webb and the Flies side project, really shines here, ably translating his side-work into a searing layer of sound for The Horrors 2.0. The slow-burning stomp of ‘I Only Think Of You’ is a 6 and a half minute triumph of pomp and lovelorn bluster, while ‘Scarlet Fields’ is spectral and blissful with its almost My Bloody Valentine-esque off-kilter keys and murmured fuzzy vocals. ‘I Can’t Control Myself’ is full of swagger and flanged out punk fuzz, the most pop-punk of this collection, which manages to be bravely experimental in places, allowing moments of electronica to filter into its songs, especially in the first lowkey minute of opener ‘Mirror’s Image’ before it whips itself up into a moody foot-stomper of a welcome. ‘Three Decades’ is pure dizzying menace, with a wall of sound building like shrieking damsels falling off roofs revealing themselves to be winged demons.

This is an impressively tight album, never dull, always impressing with its strong course of serotonin-raising dope-ass soundscapes and bulging walls of sound, psychedelic and electronic and 80s-ish and gothic and punkish and rawk all at once, persuading even the casual listener to shut the fuck up and just tune in to its impressively tense depth. Surely a contender for best sophomore album you’ll hear this decade and a definite contender for album of the year.


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