The Horrors – Luminous Review

If you haven’t noticed, one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year is out tomorrow from one of the countries most creative and imaginative bands. The album is Luminous and the band is The Horrors. A band from Southend On Sea who had to deal with a fair bit of ridicule for the eccentric and crazed approach of their debut, but those who did having been wholeheartedly singing their praises since. Primary Colours was largely responsible for that with the group taking inspiration from their influences but crafting something new from it and from their own past. Skying saw another shift with large expansive sounds that had worked so brilliantly yet was still not to the exact standard of their 2009 effort. They’re not ones for remaining static but you do sense a slight external pressure on them to not just make amazing albums like Skying, but albums even greater than that like Primary Colours. Luminous has been delayed and reworked when others would just send it out as it is for the money and the quick fix. So have they decided to merge the best from the their last albums or go for an unattached approach? As is usually the case with The Horrors, it isn’t that simple.

‘I See You’ is over seven minutes of genre clashing, conducted chaos. Perhaps a representation of the colour they said would be injected into the album but not the gritty and darker elements also mentioned. It opens in a disco and dance track fashion as the tempo of the rotations grow. The modulated synths float over the top of it along with the lingering and low lying riffs from Josh. Faris’ vocal mostly isolated and muted echo directs the main melody and the extra electronic sounds shimmer off his low toned vocal. The bass line is not laboured into following the vocal or guitar and Rhys Webb formulates his own bass line in the chorus to give the song an added kick. The song then veers off in another direction with the now glittering synths being offset by the tumbling avalanche from Joe on the drums. On the way it collects the drawn out synth sounds before Joe dictates the direction of the song by simply pounding the kit and Josh takes over with the grinding guitar riffs that cut through the on-going electronica behind it in a great culmination of noise and sound that is all so cruelly stolen away as it reaches it’s peak.  ‘So Now You Know’ is a song that gradually whips up an atmospheric and sonic energy with the lost guitars and the faithful synth chords breaking through it and emerging as the driving force of the next stage of the song. The bass line is on it’s own path but still backing up the more feather like elements of the instrumental structure. Faris’ vocals seem to have both qualities of a deep rooted tone but a lightweight and floating quality as a result of the echo applied. The synths engage in a slow motion siren and is joined by a multitude of other synth sounds before Josh tears through the clouds of rotating synths and floating vocals with his sheer awesome shredding guitar sound that he’s able to grind a tune and melody out of. This song is a more glistening and springy event that is glorious in it’s form and production.

‘Chasing Shadows’ opens the album with a light layer of hanging synths from which a shaper and more cutting sounds intercepts through it. Even more chiming and laser like synths rotate and flash alongside the tapping cymbals and the bongo-like percussion which gradually but very noticeably builds before launching into a sonically driven guitar force wired by the higher pitched synths. The mass of noise relents to introduce us to a more gentle and harmonious vocal from Faris which strings along the indelible rhythm. Something that they haven’t readily practiced too much in the past, but something that really works well for them here in creating a path amongst the rich and untamed sounds. ‘In and Out Of Sight’ set off on a oscillating disco trance before the smooth and fluid bass line arrives with the percussion. Faris’ vocals have an even softer and harmonious feel that is solidified by the likeminded backing vocals providing the melody. Again it isn’t something they have practiced in this fashion so readily, but one they have applied in a subtle way which allows the sounds to grow and develop and the vocals become a tool of this too. Coupled with a hook in the shape of a phased out and undulated, rough sounding riff; ‘Falling Star’ features many of the vocal qualities from ‘In and Out of Sight’ along with the soothing synth chords and clutching and fluctuating bass line. ‘Change Your Mind’ is akin to a swooning, swinging rock ballad with the basic backbeat of the percussion and the forlorn strikes of the guitar. This is guided by Faris’ softer vocal which almost sounds distant and all too vulnerable at the same time before rolling back into a traditional Horrors clash of elements. ‘Mine and Yours’ has Joshua Hayward at the forefront with his whining and writhing guitar sound leading the way alongside cascading brass and electronica. ‘Sleepwalk’ has the churning guitars offset by the springing blips of the synths while ‘Jealous Sun’ generates such a huge wave of sound in a similar fashion to grind out a steady and fuzzy beat when they could’ve all so easily thrashed at their guitars at full distortion and take the easy way out. That fluid and muted rhythm which has been one of the mainstays of the album, is very prominent in ‘First Day of Spring’. This clearer foundation and groove about their songs on this album has given Faris more room to explore his vocal capabilities and a better chance to explore the lyrics in context and of a similar mind-set to the instrumentals. Skying was a master class of expansive and growing sounds, but with Luminous they have granted a little more matter and a more prominent core to it all. If you remove some of the tweaks and sifting they have done,  it is still a more direct progression from their third album. The most direct so far. You still feel that they can do and create material even greater than this and provide just the slight edge to put it at the level of Primary Colours or even beyond that. That is not the case with Luminous yet it is still a great distance ahead of almost any other band of a similar elk.

The Horrors – Luminous = 9/10

Image from www.digitalspy.co.uk /

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