Some critics commented that the success of The Horrors’ second album was more attributable to the production efforts of Geoff Barrow, most famous for his work with Portishead, given the huge leap from their debut album. However, their latest effort, 'Skying', produced by the band themselves, demonstrates this is a band of real talent in their own right and arguably the best band in the current British indie scene.
Much has been made by other reviews of how easy it is to spot the influences in the record but I don’t think the band will be in any way concerned about being compared to the likes of Neu, David Bowie, Simple Minds, Suede, and Cocteau Twins. What distinguishes The Horrors from other current bands is that they truly embrace all the opportunities a recording studio has to offer – you have to listen to the record repeatedly numerous times to appreciate all the nuances in their sonic landscapes.
While lead single 'Still Life' does not have the same shock factor as 'Sea Within A Sea', the first single from their previous album, the grandiose nature of the song, which even includes trumpets, betrays perhaps their commercial ambitions and it’s not too surprising the song reached BBC Radio 1’s playlist. There is an even greater degree of cohesion in the album and a clear mood underlying the songs, which is more hopeful in tone than its predecessor.
This is immediately signified by opener 'Changing In The Rain', a woozy song with an almost baggy beat. 'I Can See Through You' sees the band picking up where they left off with 'Primary Colours', with its pretty keyboard line and huge chorus. The track finds lead singer Faris Badwan even incorporating the pop staple lyrics of "la la la" to end the song.
Although many of the tracks are backed by a disciplined motorik beat, there is a good degree of unpredictability about the record. 'Endless Blue', introduced last year by the band at festivals, meanders along gracefully before it is violently disrupted by a trashy guitar riff with Badwan chanting "Endless" over and over again.
The centrepiece of the album is undoubtedly 'Moving Further Away', which is the most ambitious song on the record. It is reflective of the band’s talent that the song remains intriguing throughout its almost nine minutes and reminds me of the title track of Bowie’s 'Station To Station' as they slowly build the song layer by layer. It has a hypnotic feel with Badwan chanting "Everybody moving further away" until a heavy rock riff takes hold of the song. 'Oceans Burning' is an epic album finale, symbolising their confidence as it descends from a stately, melancholic track through to a messy psychedelic jam.
Rightly accused initially of being more style than substance, The Horrors have matured into one of the most innovative bands alternative music has to offer. It’s heartening to see in the current climate that a band has been given the room to grow and learn from their mistakes. Given the exponential growth of the band, I’m very much looking forward to hearing what the fourth Horrors’ record has to offer –words I know I would not have been stating this when they first emerged in their (intentionally) silly gothic guise. 'Skying' is simply a terrific record.
'Skying' can be pre-ordered at Amazon.co.uk, iTunes etc. Stream the album in full above.