Since their formation in 2005, English band The Horrors have managed to emerge from an interesting chrysalis of garage-influenced fright rock into a fully-formed band with a true career of note. Newest release Skying finds The Horrors awash in dreamy, impassioned songwriting less anchored to their influences and more out to sea, creatively speaking, than anywhere they’ve been before.
The Horrors EP (2006) and debut album Strange House (2007) were brash recordings equal parts refreshing and amusing if you were into Bauhaus, The Cramps, and The Sonics as a teenager. A series of fairly haphazard career launches were initiated. Silly, grim stage names were chosen. A chilling video for “Sheena Is a Parasite” was shot by infamous director Chris Cunningham; the video for “She Is the New Thing” featured vicious animation in the manner of Ralph Steadman. A US support slot for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was cancelled (reportedly due to funding issues) and the band pitched around on an unremarkable headlining tour before bouncing around the UK festival circuit. Fans and critics wondered what might become of the blip in the radar that the fright rock English lads had initiated, and then something quite unpredictable happened.
Follow-up Primary Colours came along in 2009, a complete sonic departure produced most notably by Geoff Barrow of Portishead. The spooky stage names were dropped. The remarkable shift in the band’s development revealed a newly shimmering musculature borrowing from the oceanic sounds of shoegaze. Only the faintest outlines of the formerly brooding bones were discernible; the band was the same animal in name (and lineup) only. Primary Colours, in all its unexpected complexity, captured the highly esteemed UK Mercury Prize for 2009. When The Horrors toured the US next, their audience had widened and matured along with the band’s direction.
Skying, released in 2011 and self-produced in a London studio that they built themselves, finds the band even more at home in their creative streak. “Changing The Rain”, “I Can See Through You”, and “Still Life” are bold expansions of the band’s transformation. While still playing with slightly different textures within the album’s framework, Skying sounds like a group grown into its skin. One would never have guessed that a young band called The Horrors would grow up to create passionate art favoring subtlety over showiness, but The Horrors have done just that. As history has proven, sometimes being lost at sea ends in the discovery of beautifully exotic new shores. –J.Price
Catch The Horrors live at Neumos this Thursday, September 8. Get tickets, and check out the video for “Still Life” below: