For a band that is only three records into a pretty solid discography, The Horrors have already accomplished something most bands try to do in a lifetime. That is, create a sound that both clearly owes a debt to its Goth/Post-punk forebears such as Bauhaus, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Echo and the Bunnymen, while still being unique enough to be distinguished as their own.
Their debut record Strange House was a dark and squirmy thing. A really good, creepy crawly caterpillar of an album that was very interested in wriggling about in the muck and singing about death and parasites like some graveyard maggot. As we all well know, however, a caterpillar is not a maggot. So their second release Primary Colours, found the band a little less affected, but not any less brooding as they cocooned themselves in the studio with visionary collaborators. That album, like Skying, was recorded with Geoff Barrow, best known for his work with Portishead, Beak, and Anika, and video director Chris Cunningham. The resulting record was a phenomenal step in the band’s development. The album was a critical success, capped by a nomination for the 2009 Mercury Prize, but most significantly it showed the band truly defining itself. It was one of my very favorite albums that year and holds up to repeated listens. Nonetheless, Primary Colours has an insulated and paranoid vibe, the sound of something spectacular gestating.
On their stunning new album, Skying, The Horrors have metamorphosed into a shimmery and wildly emotive band. Seemingly unafraid of becoming a butterfly, they have taken flight on the soundwaves of the BIG 80s. This desire to be epic is reminiscent of early Eno/Lanois produced U2 and Tears for Fears albums, and like those albums Skying is bold, lush, and un-apologetically BIG. Tracks like, "Still Life," "Dive In," and "Endless Blue" flit and weave about on echoing waves of guitars, chugging drum cracks, and anthemic vocal hooks. But, the stunner in my opinion is "You Said" which is one of the most enchanting and summery songs I've heard all year. It is the sound of sunspots beneath your eyelids while you lay out on the beach. It is the sound of watching lightning bugs rise in the tall grass. And it's the sound of kissing your crush beneath the bleachers during a Labor Day fireworks show. Apparently, like classic romantic poets before them, The Horrors are as excited by the sublimity of existence as they are by its crushing heaviness.
For some it might be a bummer that they are not being dark and dreadful, but I for one find it totally exciting that Skying is The Horrors inviting us to take flight with them as they move into their next phase. Can a butterfly become a lion? A gryphon? We’ll have to wait and see. For now they just might end up your favorite new band of the year.
- Mario Cotto, KCRW Music Host
Skying will be available to stream on demand from August 1 through August 14, 2011. The album will be released on Tuesday, August 9, 2011.
Listen to entire show:
Artist website: http://www.thehorrors.co.uk
1. Changing The Rain
2. You Said
3. I Can See Through You
4. Endless Blue
5. Dive In
6. Still Life
7. Wild Eyed
8. Moving Further Away
9. Monica Gems
10. Oceans Burning