The Horros - "Moving Further Away" (MP3)
Little over two years after turning a critically-acclaimed 180 on their audience with the Mercury Prize-nominated Primary Colours, Southend boys The Horrors return with their third offering Skying. It’s a wonder these lads didn’t buckle under the pressure having to follow up the surprise hit of 2009, yet here they are pumped and ready for yet more psychedelic/goth/indie action.
As seems to have become habit for this band, album three sees them arguably return as The Horrors Mk III. The five-piece drop their previous 70s-inflected psych-rock and draw on the class of new wave and early 90s Britpop (just before the genre became a parody of itself). With Brett Anderson passion and the spirit of Simple Minds intertwined throughout, these Essex lads bring us a great many reasons to believe The Horrors are the future of British indie.
Things kick off in a cloud of hazy laser beams with the elated "Changing The Rain" before chugging to a more methodical beat in "You Said". It’s then off to the fist-pumping juggernaut "I Can See Through You", which feels like a lost number from The Breakfast Club soundtrack.
Fourth track "Endless Blue" transports us to a misty road encased in gloom and an irrepressible fog that just won’t clear. Synth horns emanate from all corners, pushing you into a glazed submission until finally, around a third of the way in, Joshua Hayward’s dirty warehouse grunge begins to take effect clearing a path for the cracks of light that beg to break through.
Clearly not destined to clean up the pop charts any time soon, Skying brings with it an easy atmosphere coupled with splashes of color and the cheeky bounce of northern soul. Listening from start to finish, you can get lost in the static, only to suddenly open your eyes and be surprised as to where you’ve ended up.
"Monica Gems" swaggers exaggeratedly, building on a smooth indie guitar lick, to later fall over itself into a hoot of kaleidoscopic brilliance come the chorus while "Moving Further Away" is the unassuming slow burner whooshing into a shower of white noise that had been eagerly bubbling under the surface. First single off the record "Still Life" gives out a chiming (and charming) burst of elation that could quite comfortably contend for sound of summer 2011.
An easy pick this year for critics and public alike, Skying works on an atmospheric level more than as a string of individual nuggets. Here lies the only real criticism for The Horrors’ third effort. Each track blends so effortlessly into the next that you could be listening to track one and then wake up in the middle of track nine or ten without thinking you’ve missed a step. This ability for Skying to be as much background noise as centre stage enlightenment means when The Horrors play this record to the festival crowds, almost everyone will surely be knocked out by the sheer impending weight of it all, but far fewer will be chanting it on the bus ride home. Their love for unashamed nostalgia might also leave a sour taste with some.
Still, The Horrors have once more brought us something that no other band today can come close to equalling – and while this Essex indie-rock/new wave/pride of Britain/romantic/industrial trippy synth-riddled quintet make no apologies for stirring in more ingredients than in that feared mystery chilli, they really don’t have anything to apologise for. Unlike with the many bands that use each new LP release as a way of experimenting and finding their sound but failing miserably, The Horrors return time and time again sounding more accomplished than ever.
This record gives us hope for the future. Let’s hope these boys don’t stop exploring.