Album: The Horrors, Skying (XL)
Sunday 10 July 2011
This is the one. You may remember, in 2009, the clamour of critics lauding The Horrors for – shock, er, horror – actually making a good album with their second effort, Primary Colours. I was practically a lone sceptic, sulking and tutting on my own in the corner.
I missed the band The Horrors used to be – the Edwardian clothes, the big gothic hair, the crazy garage rock songs, the screaming and stamping and shouting – and there was something depressingly predictable about the way that as soon as they got rid of the make-up and hairspray and started namechecking Krautrock, the door to Wire magazine and Sunday supplement respectability swung open wide.
But this, this is the one. Skying is an album which sees The Horrors take the Big Music of the Eighties, from the adored (Talk Talk, Blue Nile, Simple Minds before they went rubbish) to the maligned (Black, Then Jerico, Simple Minds after they went rubbish) and put it through a Nineties noisenik filter. When this sort of thing is done badly – the name “The Big Pink” springs to mind – the results are beyond appalling. But, as the lead track “Still Life” proved, The Horrors are – if you’ll pardon the cheap gag about their privileged upbringings — of an altogether higher class.
Skying begins with the looped distortion-pop of “Changing The Rain”, which sounds like My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon” covered by prime-time Psychedelic Furs and sets the template for an album which never once dips in quality. Numerous tracks are episodic in structure, like “Endless Blue”, whose intro is as placid as the first passage of The Boo Radleys’ “Lazarus”, before the nasty guitar rock song kicks in and it all switches from oceanic to linear. The eight-minute epic “Moving Further Away” starts off like Kraftwerk circa “Radioaktivity”, turns into a psych-rock juggernaut and moves into a Pink Floyd bliss-out interlude and back again without ever abandoning its original chord structure.
What’s most impressive of all are the textures. “Dive In” is made from sumptuous sugar-sculptures of nonspecific instruments. “Wild Eyed” has dream-dazed Spanish trumpets weaving in and out. The chrome sheen of “I Can See Through” reminds me of David Essex’s “Silver Dream Machine” (seriously). The closest thing to a regular rock song is “Monica Gems”, whose foot-on-the-wedge riffology is an oddity in context, but even that has a dizzy sway to it. They wrap up with “Oceans Burning”, another eightminute epic which billows out like Verve before they sprouted a “The”.
Oh, there are lyrics. Vaguely positivist platitudes like “The moment that you want is coming if you give it time”. They operate as word-shapes to hang the tune on. And my god, what tunes they are. This is an album that’s ostentatiously overloaded on melody, and on all-round sonic luxury. This is the one.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
The C-Word - review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest adaptation of Lisa Lynch's book about living with cancer
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 4 - review: Sansa is in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils