The Horrors – Skying
The Horrors – Skying
Few British bands are as restless as the Horrors. After gaining notoriety for the over-the-top spookhouse garage rock of their debut, they shifted gears to a mix of gloomy post-punk and shoegaze for their acclaimed follow-up, Primary Colours. So where to go now? They could have understandably taken a record to catch their breath, releasing another set of songs within that same formula, but the Horrors refuse to be pigeonholed. Out comes 2011’s Skying, a dreamy, danceable thing that’s brighter and more blissful than anything they’ve ever recorded. Sure, some remnants of Primary Colours‘ shoegazing remain, but that’s mostly in Skying‘s dazzling, swirling production, not so much in its songs or approach. Instead, the Horrors explore a different side of the band’s personality—the side that has a fondness for Psychedelic Furs-esque dance-rock as well as the baggy and Madchester scene. It’s a record full of strong melodies and blurry vocals all driven home with plenty of funky drumbeats, washes of synths and guitars and more effects pedals than you even feel like counting. This may sound like the legions of revivalist groups who’ve been conjuring up the late ’80s and early ’90s lately but to lump this album in with those would be a grave mistake. What propels Skying above its peers is the Horrors’ uncanny sense of songcraft, pure and simple. The Horrors are unafraid to take their time with these songs, pushing tracks like “Moving Further Away” into the stratosphere with trance-inducing jams. Refusing to take the two-minute pop song route ends up paying dividends for the group where it would be the downfall for others. They know just when to add a new element or repeat another, letting the melodies seep into your brain till they won’t leave. It makes for consistently compelling listening, whether it smashes into a rousing, fist-pumping anthem like “I Can See Through You” or lulls you into a daze with a splash of effects like on “Still Life.” Elsewhere, “Endless Blue” surprisingly shifts from sweet spaciness to grungy riffing, while “Monica Gems” reigns in the baggy tendencies for a straight rocker, well at least straighter than the rest of the record. The album’s lack of truly brilliant moments may keep it from ascending to the heady levels of their inspirations, but Skying is a great record by any measure, though here’s my betting that the Horrors’ next album will sound nothing like it.