The Horrors have undergone an incredible transformation in just three albums, from the uninspiring impatient Goth-rock of Strange House; through to the brilliant post-punk shoe gaze revival of their 2009 album, Primary Colours; and finally with the new wave psychedelic, nigh-on unfaultable Skying. At last it seems as though The Horrors are going to properly break through and gain the recognition that they truly desire. Primary Colours only reached number Twenty-Five in the album charts, and that was with it being one of two contenders for the best album of that year and in one week of that year Twenty-Four albums were out selling it! The obvious answer to that it is – it’s actually more likely to be good if it isn’t the bestselling album of the year, and that was most probably the case with Primary Colours, however Skying should be a different story. This Album desires at very least widespread critical acclaim.
The Album should go down well, firstly because of it simply being a quality album and secondly because of the clear 1980s neo-psychedelia and influences including Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, The Psychedelic Furs and most clearly Simple Minds with the introduction of synthesizer based pop into the style of the album. This makes the album accessible to those who remember the eighties as well as the current Horrors fans from the late noughties. Widening the appeal of this album has come from the inclusion of synth as well as the introduction of brass – using the trumpeter featured on A Day In The Life and Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles on the fourth track, Endless Blue. The six piece brass section is perhaps instrumental in the dreamlike drug-filled state of the album as a whole.
Faris at points even sounded like he was about to start singing Don’t You Want Me by The Human League, and that’s not a negative. It is such a positive, The Horrors have truly taken the best elements from that era whilst somehow managing to keep a contemporary sound, surprising considering how dated The Human League sound. I Can See Through You, is another change from anything that they have ever done before with an organ part that adds more to the whole dreamlike quality of the albums well as adding to the collection of brilliant intros contained in Skying.
The Psychedelic dream like qualities of, particularly Changing The Rain, Endless Blue and You Said make up some of the strongest points of the album. The slower brass based build up on Endless Blue, indicative of The Teardrop Explodes best known song Reward, leads to well-known Horrors thrashing guitar riff waiting for Dive In to strike up and Faris giving one a feeling of intense solitude. This sense of solitude is added to by The Horrors use of reverb and effects, which have given them the eighties sound on this record. Comparisons to the eighties can be found everywhere with The Psychedelic Furs seen to crop up again and again, notably in Wild Eyed and Faris’ similarity to Sister Europe, even so everything on Skying has succeeded in sounding fresh, as they have added to these sounds to make them their own rather than just reproducing songs in exactly the same way.
The Sea is a clear theme to add to the psychedelic components most noticeably with Endless Blue and Oceans Burning (It’s in the name as well as in the distance and solitude of both song’s lyrics) and You Said, a song about crashing waves leaving us with nothing. It may have something to do with their choice of artwork as well. Faris Badwin has recently stated that a favourite topic for lyric writing is the power of nature, it is all very clear. The scale of this subject matter, primarily in the massive power of nature and in the elements elevate the album as a whole giving the listener a feeling of its important – captured best in Moving Further away which also contains recording of Sea Gulls, sadly recorded in the centre of London.
Moving Further Away, part of countryside sessions whilst trying to recreate the atmosphere of The Rolling Stones when they recorded in the French Countryside. The epic of the album to blow Sea Within A Sea out of the water, so to speak, in eight and a half minutes it proves the quality of the band thanks to its overwhelming sense of solitude. The same can be said of Oceans Burning, which just falls short of the epic proportions of Moving Further Away. Still Life, one of the finest tracks on the record is nothing short of a masterpiece, the most instantly brilliant song which was the perfect lead single, again with the subject of distance and solitude – as well as hope and the prospect of figuratively being found again.
You Said is a brilliantly moody nonetheless euphoric existential track about the uncontrollable power of nature and the best songs along with Still Life – it is less poppy and immediate than Still Life. The Ineffable beauty and importance in a track about having nothing and the moody elation of the delivery have come together have ended up with perfection, its an undeniably perfect song.
If an album better than Skying, or at least close to its brilliance is released in the reminder of 2011, I will eat my hat. Skying is unquestionably faultless album of brilliant intoxicating dreams of songs with resonating beauty in the struggle against the powers of nature whilst it still leaves you with a strong sense of personal relevance. It is utterly Faultless.
- Still Life
- You Said
- Moving Further Away
- Dive In
- Endless Blue
Oscar B. Wilson