ALBUM REVIEW: The Horrors – Skying
Published on July 27th, 2011 | Sarika Sharma
The Horrors’ 2007 debut album Strange House left a trail of confusion, with many critics unsure of what to make of such an oddity and casting aspersions over the band’s long-term prospects.
However, 2009 follow-up Primary Colours represented a stunningly realised culmination of its predecessor’s more promising elements, receiving a nomination for the prestigious Mercury Prize and topping NME’s Albums of the Year list.
Skying, their third long-player, arrived earlier this month and looks set to consolidate the London/Southend quintet’s status as one of the most colourful, imaginative and downright brilliant pop groups going.
For better or worse, The Horrors have always had the capacity to leave listeners grasping for suitable adjectives, so it is with no little courage that first-time Rocksucker contributor Sarika Sharma attempted to distill the impact of Skying into mere words. Take it away, Sarika…
In these ripe textures we might visualise flowers in the breeze pollinating and cross-pollinating with each other in a thick mist of fuzz that owes much to the influence of My Bloody Valentine. The hundreds of bands The Horrors are emulating can reduce listening to an act of nostalgia, but such interpretations are truly dull as there is also a fair bit of new here.
Fertile sounds are allowed to leisurely adapt and evolve within songs beyond four minutes. Even if Faris Badwan’s vocals don’t completely ride the waves and oscillations the band put against him, when they do he sounds like some beautiful howling wolf with a sore tooth, as in “You Said” and “Dive In”.
Perhaps Skying celebrates the exterior and the boundless horizon as the focal point by which the figure fades to insignificance. ‘Endless Blue’ expresses its out-of-body transcendence of self to the ocean so very sexily.
Although always remaining in land/sky/seascapes, the song entitled ‘Still Life’ perhaps draws on the Still Life tradition in the sense of ‘memento mori’, its metaphors of the sunset dwelling on the beauty mortality denotes our tomorrows.
Melodic and subtle tones beside an assured beat and soft bass line lull are a wakeful slumber; this song is so calm and meditative, is this really The Horrors?
Yes, for this album is The Horrors’ invitation to you to go outside, stretch your arms to the sky or jump off a cliff into the ocean.
Triumphant and quite gentle, it is a surprising call to receive from a band that once upon a time brought us erratic villainous ballrooms, something like the compulsion to fall down stairwells.
Now The Horrors are in the sky: wow, look at them twinkle!
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Skying is out now on XL Recordings. For more information and a list of live dates, please visit thehorrors.co.uk