Wednesday, April 8

The Horrors- 'Primary Colours'

. Wednesday, April 8


Besides Bono and Jonny Borrell there are very few acts who have been on the receiving end of such bile as the black-clad Southend quintet in recent memory. What exactly was their crime though? To back-comb their hair and wear tight jeans? Russell Brand has made a fortune doing that. To wear their 60's garage rock influences on their sleeves? Pretty much every band at the turn of this decade did the same to great commercial and critical success. To just be not very good? Well, that is of course subjective and the bands debut album 'Strange House' may well be a patchy affair but in it's strongest moments ('Count In Five', Sheena Is A Parasite') it's a solid modern re imagining of The Sonics by way of The Cramps. So still the question remains, why do The Horrors face such opposition?Perhaps it's an innate, Nathan Barley inspired dislike of hipster style over substance. The idea that any band who take an interest in fashion and aesthetic are 'not real' and just playing at the big mans game of pop music. Either way the self-imposed barriers have always stood between The Horrors and credibility.

So The Horrors return would be forgiven for perhaps being met with muted expectations. What is interesting however is that it is this low level of anticipation that will work in The Horrors favour as they have crafted an incredible return that should see them finally gain the even playing field they have always deserved.

From the off you know things have changed from the haunted seaside organ swirls of 'Strange House' as you are thrust into a deep and hypnotic pit of introspection and 'Primary Colours' violence. There seems to be two factors ruling the recording of this album. The first is Geoff Barrow of Portishead who is manning the producers desk throughout. His heavy and intense style is felt throughout and is a defining motif running to the very heart of the album. The second is the way the album was recorded in an underground studio with no windows. Horrors lead singer Faris Badwan has described how this led to a timeless atmosphere leading to non-stop four day recording sessions. This shows in the music, it feels semi-conscious at moments- gone are the shrieks and fits of yore and in their place control and repetition. This state of mind similarly defines the record.

Some things haven't changed though. The Horrors have always been known for their vintage record collection and 'Primary Colours' is a myriad of influences popping up and introducing themselves at every turn. From the obvious and immediate: Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine. To the more unexpected: Can and Neu! 'Primary Colours' is a walking, talking avant garde box of 7"s. Sometimes this gets the better of them, 'I Can't Control Myself' is a note for note impression of 'Come Together' by Spiritualized for example, but generally it acts as a starting point from which the songs run forward. The album kicks off with a haze of synths before a motorik drum beat kicks in like headlights through fog. A nagging bassline and Badwans synonymous vocals join the fray and combine to create an unsettling introduction to the next 45 minutes of your life. Unsettling is perhaps the best word to sum up 'Primary Colours' for it is not an album you can leave on in the background, it's a screaming child of a record constantly demanding attention and wanting to show you new things it's learnt to do, never letting you rest. 'Three Decades' is reminiscent of the old Horrors sound with it's higher pitched keys and speedy delivery however past lives are soon forgotten as 'Who Can Say' kicks in. A scuzzball of feedback and piercing wurlitzer it hammers away with incredible style and panache, the middle eight collapsing into a spoken word verse before one last gasp for air amidst more layers of feedback. It's an incredible piece of music. Similar moments of excitement come with the rabid screams of "The agony!, Tick, tick Dead!" on 'New Ice Age' as well as the cascading romance of 'Scarlet Fields' and 'Primary Colours'. The only time the albums falls apart it does so in typically decadent fashion, the droning and impenetrable 'I Only Think Of You' is a seven minute headache this writer is yet to endure the duration of.

The Horrors have exceeded all expectations with 'Primary Colours'. Where most bands would be happy to rest on their laurels The Horrors have created a piece of work that redefines who they are as a group, places them amongst experimental and exciting contemporaries and ultimately acts as a glorious middle finger to anyone whoever doubted them. The bar has been raised.


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Anonymous said...

everyone hated them because they were on the cover of NME before they'd actually released anything, making them seem like c*nts.


Anonymous said...

scarlet fields and sea within a sea is amazing. This album is an amazing progression from the different but still good strange house.

carlos said...

scarlet fields and sea within a sea is amazing. This album is an amazing progression from the different but still good strange house

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