The Horrors – Skying The Horrors – Skying

The Horrors emerged in the UK scene in 2007, cultivating a rather sinister brand of psychedelic garage rock; their music would definitely have worried your parents if they’d heard it, their hairstyles even more so. It’s hard to say now whether it was style over substance – the style was just as black and dark as the moody organ freak-outs were. Their second album, Primary Colours, suggested a more radical change in style; geared towards moody krautrock jams than bursts of garage rock (Their lead single “Sea Within A Sea” clocks in at a considerable 7:58). Still, I viewed their change in direction as down to necessity rather than artistic creativity – they had to go somewhere else with it, right? Regardless, neither their hair nor their music did it for this reviewer, and I for one quickly wrote them off as attention seeking upstarts.

As such, I am delighted to report that Skying is a humble and welcome reminder that one’s first impressions can be wrong – over the course of 54 minutes Faris and co. paint a scenery that is psychedelic, dreamy and all-encompassing. Even the aesthetics are spot on; the album artwork and title are both remarkably apt and it’s one of those occasions where what’s on the outside of an album ‘just fits’ with what’s on the inside. The music is soaring, the lyrics are constantly referencing both the sea (“Endless blue/seems so far away” on “Endless Blue) and the sky (“See you where the light ends/ I’ll be shooting across the silver/Through the breaking sky” on “Moving Further Away”). Considering they were once NME darlings that typified some of the throwaway music that was being made at the time, The Horrors have certainly come a long way.

The Horrors are a band that formed thanks to a shared love of old psychedelica and rock and roll vinyl records, and whilst Skying may be a far cry from where they started, it shows that The Horrors are still a band unashamed to turn influence into inspiration. Disintegration era The Cure can be heard throughout, particularly on blissful opener “Changing The Rain”. You could probably attribute the warm background haze of the fabulous “You Said” to the Cocteau Twins, or the keyboard patterns on “Still Life” to 80’s synthpop like Simple Minds or Ultravox. But it doesn’t really matter, Skying doesn’t have the same sort of pomp or self awareness that other albums playing spot-the-influence might have; instead it ebbs and flows naturally, content to give the listener an insight into its influences but never using them in a ‘My record collection is bigger than yours’ kind of way.

Another evolution of note is that of singer Faris Badwan. His vocal style and range on Skying is unrecognizable from the creature that shrieked on the band’s third single, “Count In Fives”. Whilst the music itself swells throughout, Badwan is the one constant, the lynchpin on which much of Skying rests.

“All the whispers are heavy/And the whispers they wear you down” he croons amongst the heady aura of “You Said”. He even comes close to anthem territory on “Still Life”, offering the wise words, “Don’t hurry, give it time/Things are the way that they have to be” before declaring “The moment that you want is coming if you give it time”. As someone who despised The Horrors in their earliest incarnations it’s almost unthinkable that this is the sort of stuff they’re coming out with today.

As mentioned, the influences are aplenty, but this is very much a band carving out their own sound, wherever that takes them (It might be easy to take the philosophical approach and say that that’s what they were always doing; maybe so, but I maintain that Strange House is still awful and always was). My personal grumbles about their formative years aside, I’m pleased that an album has turned my prejudice of a band completely on its head. After all, wouldn’t you rather a band got better over time, rather than the opposite? On the basis of Skying, the future’s bright.

1. Changing The Rain
2. You Said
3. I Can See Through You
4. Endless Blue
5. Dive In
6. Still Life
7. Wild Eyed
8. Moving Further Away
9. Monica Gems
10. Oceans Burning

The Horrors - Skying, reviewed by Lemon on 2011-08-12T10:14:25-07:00 rating 4.1 out of 5

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