The Horrors – V Review

As titles of albums go you could be forgiven for thinking the Horrors latest, and fifth, album ‘V’ is a tad on the plain side. But according to frontman Faris Badwan the shape isn’t simply a marker for just how many albums the south-end-on-sea band have released into the world but also a representation of a certain, not so peaceful, hand gesture.

Although there is a feeling of reaching the end of your patience within many tracks don’t worry this isn’t The Horrors suddenly ditching those synth layers and echoes of their garage rock DIY aesthetic in favour of an energetic punk punchout. Really the up-yours in ‘V’ is more a whispered, mumbled under the breath while standing in the corner kind.  

Working with an outside producer for the first time since ‘Primary Colours’, Paul Epworth (London Grammar, Adele, Coldplay, Bloc Party) adding his ear to ‘V’ it would be easy to presume there should be an anthemic track or two hidden amongst the tracks.

Opener Hologram slithers into life in a sea of ambient synths, reflecting a little of 80’s electronica that perhaps rubbed off after recently supporting Depeche Mode.

‘Press Enter To Exit’ continues the classic eighties feel with its false ending and New Order rich swagger continued in tracks like ‘Weighted Down’, which begins with gentle violins before a stomping percussion adds a little Joy Division to the feel of things.  

Though it’s not just an eighties sound that is captured within ‘V’. First single ‘Machine’ and ‘Gatherings’ seem to yearn for those cascading 90’s Brit-pop era anthems.Mixing a little Suede to The Horrors retro feel. 

Everything is kept pretty much consistently within swaggering melancholy as ‘Ghost’ creates an, admittedly expected, haunted wall of sound that wonders around in a pretty gloomy atmosphere, gloomy in an entrancing way of course. ‘Point Of No Reply’ continues things in a misty edged tone. Wrapped in a fairly pointed lyric unfurling the bruises of an unhealthy relationship. The track descends into fuzzy distortion before clicking to an abrupt end like a cassette reaching the last millimetres of reel; ‘Throwing knives with an eye for revenge Tell your friends I hate you There’s nothing I can do.’

‘It’s A Good Life’ has a tentativeness to it. Written after the death of Peaches Geldof it feels imbued with the kind of heart fitting a The Cure album; ‘She lay in the dark, but I don’t know who found her.’

Bringing the album to a close ‘Something To Remember Me By’ is at last that i-phones in the air moment that Epworth’s name may have slightly promised. Though even this track is in no way a commercialised moment. A synth-pop romance laced within a driving beat makes for a lighter, once again New Order influenced, closer. Though even here there is still a darker interlude crafted into the tracks middle; ‘You say that I believe my lies But now you’ll never know.’

Perhaps not as oddball as previous albums ‘V’ is still an enchanting collection of tracks full of retro riffs that feel like The Horrors crafting an album full of genuine heart.

The Horrors – V = 8.5/10 

Hayley Miller

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