So The Horrors are officially ‘not shit’ then. ‘Skying’ confirms what ‘Primary Colours’ strongly hinted at; that a stonking band has emerged from the ashes of the garage rock monstrosity that created 2007’s ‘Strange House’. This was an unlikely feat but since Faris Badwan and co are now making ‘not shit’ albums at twice the frequency of their certifiably ‘shit’ ones, it would be rude to dwell on their past indiscretions for too long.
Although almost all DNA from the days of ‘Count In Fives’ has been erased from their molecular structure, what crucially does remain in the potent chemistry of The Horrors is their tendency to draw heavily from their record collections. If ‘Sea Within A Sea’ was the ultimate blend of My Bloody Valentine and Neu!, then ‘Skying’ does a splendid trade in early 80s gloom-pop of the variety Echo And The Bunnymen and Simple Minds once carved open aching hearts with. It is a slick move sideways offering a fertile breeding ground for Badwan’s breathless vocals in more melodic waters than the coarse, shoegaze indebted rush ‘Primary Colours’ could offer.
Having settled into their latest gothic niche with withering panache, this Southend on Sea five piece are content to revel in the woozy, tuneful smorgasbord it offers for the rest of their third record.
Katy Perry et al this is not but when Badwan croons “Gotta give me your love, gotta give me more” from the depths his band’s shimmering synth pastiche, it bores a crater-like depth charge into your noggin. ‘I Can See Through You’ is even more deliberately anthemic, harking back to the beastly Horrors of old and making them over with a liberal application of spectral guitar slap.
It is this endless careering between the coarse and the cathartic that lends ‘Skying’ its near bulletproof sheen. ‘Monica Gems, ‘Dive In’ and ‘Oceans Burning’ all teeter on the brink of peril but elevate themselves above it with many a soaring chord. The one criticism that could be rightly levelled at The Horrors is that of how much they have pilfered from their new romantic inspiration and how much can be definitively recognised as their work.
Given the band shift so quickly across the sonic palette, this will be their cross to bear for some time to come. Given they are so good at doing so, we’ll let them off again.