Britain is a small, isolated isle, stuck between France/Mainland Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. And the place is swarming with talent. This was the place where punk was born, where post-punk spewed forth. Glam rock originated here. Heavy Metal can be traced back to Britain. Rave music and Big Beat can thank Britain for giving it it’s start. Same goes for Trip-Hop. Indie Rock would never be the same without the artists from Britain making up the bulk of indie rock’s catalogue. Not to mention pop (…fucking Spice Girls…). The place has manicured superstars of the music world since music was a thing. Britain is the birthplace of legends and world dominators such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Radiohead, The Prodigy, Portishead, New Order, Blur, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, The Stone Roses, The Cure, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, David fucking Bowie! Now, you can add The Horrors to that list.
Admittedly, The Horrors have been out for quite a while. Seven years to be precise. All seven of these years have been focused on one thing: creating mind blowing haunting and beautiful melancholy music that can still rock you like an earthquake (if you thought I was going to say hurricane….no words). Their second offering of possessing post-punk, ‘Primary Colours’ (released in 2009), is unmatchable in it’s execution and style. It’s a more mature and straight faced record than their excellent debut, ‘Strange House’, but it’s not as conceited as their third album, ‘Skying’, which is also amazing. Instead, The Horrors strike the perfect balance between sappy, The Cure-ish lyrics (circa ‘Three Imaginary Boys’) and ghostly and abrasive baroque and burlesque rock, in lieu of The Dresden Dolls. But wait! There’s more! There’s an overall slippery shining, shoegaze quality to their music, and easy going vocal delivery on the part of lead singer Faris Badwan, that is reminiscent of Morrissey’s work with The Smiths. Then there’s the tightness of sound, the tension that arises between the rhythm section that feels like it could snap at any moment, and slackens off only at the highest point of deliberation, similar to the acts Mudhoney and The Cramps. There’s a careless, snotty punk vibe, like The Clash, but now there’s also a gloomy, elderly, gothic overtone like the bands Killing Joke, Echo and the Bunnymen and Sisters of Mercy. And right at the bottom of the barrel, buried so only very few can find it, is the influence of lesser Brit-pop, from bands like Suede and The Libertines, the bands that no doubt inspired the younger Horrors to first pick up instruments.
With all the amalgamation of inspiration and mix of sounds, you might be led to believe that the record is just a mess. Instead, the album stays true to it’s post-punk roots, only letting the garage rock and goth efficiencies shine when it seems appropriate. For example, the near finisher ‘Primary Colours’ is an almost, almost bouncy song that jumps with playful delight only brought crashing to reality by the somber tone of Badwan. The song scrunches it’s forehead and jiggles it’s head, but it can’t shake that nagging feeling that hangs over the record. The nagging feeling of being alone forever, being discussed by other people behind your back, the paranoia of love, the absurdness of life. ‘Primary Colours’ is an introspective record as well as a rioting one, one that knows when to ponder (‘Do You Remember’) and when to, to borrow MC5’s line, ‘kick out the jams’ (‘New Ice Age’, which is just an excuse for The Horrors to bring out as many pedals as possible, and try to use them all within a 4 and a half minute period).
The record is a true sign of a band having found their feet and not being afraid to try new things. It’s certainly a departure from the ‘Strange House’ method of howling and thrashing in a puddle of drug fueled angst. ‘Primary Colours’ can teach you a thing or two about youth and the simple dreariness of it all, and be your companion on lonely Saturday nights (‘Who Can Say’), or it could be a hidden gem you enjoy in introspective solitude of lustful concentration (‘I Only Think Of You’). Hell, it even delivers on a ditzy, irrelevant toe-tapper, ‘I Can’t Control Myself’. It’s got something for everyone, not just the angsty adolescent. However, the angsty adolescent demographic is probably the group to enjoy it the most, as soon as the finish buying their new Joy Division shirts off E-Bay, and polishing their copy of ‘Disintegration’ by The Cure.