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

Single Review – The Horrors – Weighed Down

Third track from The Horrors soon to be released fifth album ‘V’, due September 22, ‘Weighed Down’ follows on from the bands lead single ‘Machine’ and the synth-pop-infused epic ‘Something To Remember Me By.’ With Faris Badwan’s pleading vocal tumbling over some pretty fuzz heavy melancholic guitar lines and the distant percussive echoes of Joe Spurgeon, the track contains a fairly darkened shoe-gaze style melody. Things builds into an expansive and, despite the tracks title, somehow light yet industrially edged single, which seems to hint ‘V’ is taking The Horrors in an ever so slightly different direction. 

Hayley Miller

Single Review – The Horrors – Machine

The Horrors are hard to define. The Essex quintet rooted their sound in Shoegaze Psychedelia and Pop from their 2011 album Skying and their fourth album Luminous from 2014. Their fourth album was the first to not feature a major shift in sound. It was a refinement with several tweaks and changes, but for a group that has taken in several genres in just four albums, it seemed like a half sideways step albeit an excellently delivered one. That did beg the question whether The Horrors had settled down in their third guise and whether their fifth would be another vaguely similar effort. Their new single ‘Machine’ however, may see them forge the fourth chapter in their sound. The churning and grinding opening of their latest single instantly tells you where their sound has landed and the Josh Hayward’s razor sharp, distorted chords hammer the message home; The Horrors have gone industrial. It is the darkest and grittiest they have been since the Gothic Punk of their debut though with their new Industrial sound, this is measured and flickered back to you. Shades of post Pop Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails are natural, but with the psychedelic style of production (Paul Epworth has been brought in to produce this album) and the warbling haze of Faris Badwan’s vocals give this sound a distinct feel. It also allows the likes of Joshua Hayward a greater licsense to make guitars a greater part of their sound again. An exciting sound for 2017.

Owen Riddle

Half Term Report – Top 10 albums of the year so far

For me 2014 has already eclipsed the previous year for musical diversity, creativity and innovation about all aspects of the craft; whether it’s through the production or lyrics, it has been a far better year already. The most obvious evidence is the lack of full marks in 2013 and the two full marks we’ve had already this year. On top of this, the average rating of 2013’s top 10 albums was 8.85 while the first half of 2014 has already produced a score of 9.05 and I’m sure that will rise by the time we get to December. So here are some of the contenders so far.

10. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

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Despite having a slight knack of becoming a little too bogged down in similar subdued moments, it bats those moments back with some wonderful atmospheric bursts and rhythms that encapsulate so many unexpected hooks. Another change of direction and one of their best yet.

9. Kasabian 48:13

Another marvellous piece of re-imagination after the false start of their last album; 48:13 delivers their vision almost perfectly. It’s bold, in your face and you can’t ignore it. At other times it’s unsettling and thought provoking. Whether it’s driven through eerie electronica or EDM-enthused hard rock, it works. This is even more true live.

8. Damon AlbarnEveryday Robots

Full of mystery, intrigue, reflection and honest cynicism. An album that remains slightly lost in the thoughts and feelings of Damon Albarn, but what a place to be lost in. It flows or even trickles along from one song into the next and through peek some moments of real beauty. For a debut album too? Remember the name…. he’ll go far this one….

7. Warpaint – Warpaint

An accomplished piece of expansive art rock. Despite it’s growing and expanding sounds that they produce with ease; this album usually incorporates a captivating central element to it’s songs that filter out a hopeful atmosphere into a murky and lingering gloom that keeps you perched on the edge of your seat. A perfect example of production discipline and manipulation.

6. Bastard Mountain – Farewell Bastard Mountain

Admittedly this album by the British folk collective was something I wasn’t expecting to blow me away and in reality it didn’t. It did, however immerse me into the raw and natural soundscapes that were produced by more traditional means. An album that is inherently beautiful and a credit to their capable musicianship. As simple as that.

5. The Horrors – Luminous

Luminous was a slightly odd turn for The Horrors to take but one you would have imagined was going to come. They stopped and pondered. They looked at Skying and thought they could make it better. They did. The added sense of rhythm and connection with these songs are brilliant along with the revelation that was Faris’ vocal development and added ability. It just about justified the three year wait and despite not having the effortless soars and sweeps of their previous album, nor the varied and innovative nature of the sublime Primary Colours; it is still a wondrous creation as you’d expect from The Horrors, even if it was weirdly familiar.

4. Wild Beasts – Present Tense

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Wild Beasts produced an album that remained close and intimate as it kept all the bursts, transitions and awesome shifts in sound right by you. Not in a distant and fading manner that is far off and out of reach, but something you felt coarse right through you as it bounces and shoots about your head with every synth glow and crisp riff. On top of this, it has an excellent lyrical dimension to it too which focuses it in even further.

3. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

All hail the Manics! For they are back and better than ever. These are words I’d never imagined uttering again as I witnessed one of the legendary British bands sink slowly into their comfort zone. Leaving their dynamism and lyrical daring safely in the 1990’s. If last year’s Rewind The Film gave us a clue to this album then it still caught me off guard. They deliver their European sound gloriously and in a fluctuating way with each song as it either enthuses and delights the senses or drops you from emotional highs. Lyrically relevant and challenging as they always have been too. They’ll have to clear a space next to the Holy Bible, Everything Must Go and This is my Truth Tell Me Yours  trio as Futurology is about to join them on that mantle.

2. Beck – Morning Phase

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Beck makes a long awaited return to steal you dangerously from this planet and into the soaring and unfamiliar unknowns. You don’t pass through each song, but it passes through you. From the bold, roaring and frightful instrumentals to the warm and radiant expansive ballads and down to the comforting acoustic tracks; this album takes you on a journey like no other album has this year. It evokes so many different emotions that you almost feel empty and cold by the end of some tracks. The best vocal and instrumental delivery of any album so far this year.

1. St Vincent – St. Vincent

Annie Clark has always given off little bits of wonder and innovation but this album is those things through and through. It’s the only thing you can rely on in this album for it is not linear in any way at all. Whether it is her swooning and creepy harmonious tracks, her synth driven visions, her lyrically marvelling and vocally outlandish tracks or those songs with guitars that pick you up by your collar and throw you into a mass of undulation, fusion, blocky fuzz or melodic distortion; it’s always fresh, urgent and unrelenting. In a time when so many pretenders mindlessly recycle and replay well documented sounds of the past; here you have the sound of progress. The sound of modernity. The sound of 2014.

 

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 /

Single Review – The Horrors – So Now You Know

With a level of eagerness that is quickly going off the scale; we were given an extra dose of what is to come from Luminous with the first single off the album ‘So Now You Know’. The song gradually whips up an atmospheric and sonic energy with the lost guitars and the faith synth chords breaking though 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. With some truly great albums being released over the last month, The Horrors have a lot to live up to, but you’d think if anyone can rise to the task, it is them.

http://youtu.be/38vBSlpwKJY

Image from www.digitalspy.co.uk 

Album Taster – The Horrors – I See You

The Horrors are back. They are one of the dwindling number of bands that I genuinely look forward to for something interesting, dynamic and profound. Yesterday they announced that a their delayed fourth album will be called Luminous and will be set for a May 5th release. Three years after Skying. On Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show yesterday, their new track ‘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 new album but not the gritty and darker elements also mentioned. It opens in a disco and dance track fashion is 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. A great teaser of what they will bring in May and I can’t wait.

http://youtu.be/CN0jkdTvl9s

Image from www.gigwise.com 

Sunday Suggestion – The Horrors – Mirror’s Image

Back in 2009; when the world had fallen whole-heartedly to the plastic pop we still endure today; a spectral of colourful sound with darker depths had emerged to create a modern masterpiece. That masterpiece was Primary Colours from Essex (Yes that’s right! Put away your stereotype filled rifle) band The Horrors. Fast forward to 2040 and you’ll notice that the value of their work is permanent while the work of JLS and Cheryl Cole; who topped the charts that year will be confined to the dustbin of history. Like a disposable camera. The album was a huge re-evaluation and rethink and a magnificent clash and re-jigging of their influences and past sounds. Something much more significant in recent years due to the general lack of innovation with music in general. It is an album filled with perfectly placed walls of sound, manipulated layers, ranges of depth and tone with unconventional driving forces and melodies. It is immensely difficult to pin point a song from an album full of more obvious choices like Who Can Say or Sea Within A Sea, but for me Mirror’s Image best encapsulates the scale and sound of the album. It opens with gently lapping and oscillating synths and a subtle beat to slowly push the song your way. The rotating bass then arrives to usher in a chorus of grinding and reverbing guitars that churn out a distorted and out of focus rhythm that’s all tied together with Faris’ low toned and alert vocal. The higher pitched synths in the background add melody and counter act the deep sounds being put in. The cymbal heavy percussion expands and stretches the sound out and beyond while a rough yet razor sharp lead riff from Joshua Hayward cuts its way through the built up sound. If this was 2009 I would be giving this 10/10 and it’s Mercury Prize nomination isn’t credit enough for a simply great album.

http://youtu.be/0EOPIi4Q3lM

Image from  http://www.funkygibbins.me.uk