Back in the heady summer of 2006, I vaguely remember being assailed by a dischorded band, clad in the darkest skinny jeans and with hair as rigid as it was dyed. This band was The Horrors, and I didn't care for them. I loathed their style-over-substance approach, their bravado and arrogance, their effortless art-school vibes and “I Am A Horror” branding of every other bright young thing I set eyes upon. Of course now I count these along my own prized attributes, shamelessly backtracking in my own mind, but refusing to admit that maybe The Horrors were right. In my defence, the album that they released back then was critically regarded as a fad. Good fun, but not much mileage. As quickly as they had risen that screaming apparition sunk back into the streets of Shoreditch, ready for guest parts in Nathan Barley and a last gasp appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
Roll around to early 2009 and shoegaze is the new vogue. Glasvegas' influence not withstanding, countless new acts are breaking through with a dark outlook and tote-bag full of eighties new-wave 12” records. From the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart to White Lies, this was the spring of our discontent. Never before has the dark shadow of Echo & The Bunnymen, XTC, or Joy Division been so influential. Against this backdrop, with little fanfare, The Horrors unleashed their lead single from their sophomore album Primary Colours on an unsuspecting audience. Sea Within A Sea completely abandons the aimless exhibitionism of their debut and instead toys with carefully layered analogue synths, steadily brooding guitar effects and deep sombre echoes. Gone is the crashing yelp of lead singer Faris Badwan, instead replaced with a steady and calculated supportive tone. Instead of being style-over-substance, this is carefully constructed genius.
Produced under the watchful eye of Portishead's Geoff Barrow the rest of the album, of which Sea Within A Sea is actually the final track, fails to let down the momentum and promise of it's lead single. From the deliciously macabre first minute and a half of album opener Mirrors Image, albeit a slow pulsating brand of macabre eventually giving way to a brilliantly simple guitar line and crashing drum explosion, this is an album that is constantly simmering on all fronts with dark energy. The production certainly carries the expanded vision of the albums creators, giving the nuances throughout each song a certain lasting quality. For me, the finest moment of Primary Colours is it's third track, Who Can Say. Borrowing heavily from Warsaw by Joy Division, it becomes devoured by a soaring ethereal guitar line before crunching back to earth with a stunning spoken-word interjection.
Primary Colours is a dark and sinister beast, but at it's heart beats a torrid rhythm and message. This is Hitchcock directing Romeo & Juliet, Ian Curtis directing Lolita. Most importantly however it is hope in dark corners. It is home found in a Strange House.
[MP3] The Horrors
- Sea Within A Sea
[VIDEO] Watch the video for new single Who Can Say
[SPOTIFY] Listen to Primary Colours on Spotify
[BUY] Buy the album physically
[WEBSITE] Visit The Horrors