The Horrors – Primary Colours

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Rating: ★★★ · ·

The Horrors hail from the U.K., a land where hype and image go a long way to establishing a band, or at least estbalishing a fan base.  Luckily for the band, their 2006 debut had the licks to back up the gothic persona of the band; it played like a noisier and longer version of early Misfits records with the fuel of modern contemporaries.  This time around, they’ve gone a little bit more indulgent, expanding their palette and their affinity for noise.

While the band toyed with noise throughout their debut, it has a strong focus all over Primary Colours.  Opener “Mirror’s Image” is a prelude that deals with creating a brooding sensation for listeners a la Bauhaus before the wall of noise and the Ian Curtis imitations come crashing upon your ears.  Okay, so maybe its more Brandon Flowers than Ian Curtis, but since they’re from the U.K., you’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

This is where the whole entire album goes.  It’s wave of noise and feedback crashing upon wave upon wave upon wave, but if you listen closely, you’ll find something even more sinister than the band’s gothic attire; you will find a pop band masquerading as noise rock.  Peel away the layers, and you will find a band not unlike the Killers pogoing about. Now, this isn’t an entirely ominous thing, as some might suppose; clearly the band is full of bubbling bass and other hooks to draw you into their world. Take the closer “Sea Within a Sea,” which is probably one of the strongest tracks on the album.  It bobs along for a minutes before the vocals come in to play; the echo behind the vocal once again brings in the darker side of life that one associates with Joy Division records.

Now, the noise is all well and fine, but it occasionally seems to get in the way of what the band does so well, which is create infectious melodies that will attract listeners across spectrums.  “Scarlet Fields” is the perfect example of this, as the bass line is everything about pop structure in song-writing.  Stir that up with a killer keyboard element during the chorus and you’ll find a hit lurking here.  And yes, this song still stirs souls, but it could do even more if they just removed a little bit of the noise and echo that always seems present here.

You’ll find that for those looking for that noisier element in your rock catalogue that The Horrors will definitely be a fitting addition with Primary Colours, but those of you looking for pop gems might find it a little too loud for your ears.  All in all, it’s another solid addition to the groups on-going catalogue.

4 comments

  • I’m not dismissing your opinion in any way but I feel that people might not give this record the chance it deserves. For the record though I’m pretty sure that if you compare the new record to The Killers you might have missed the point.

    You probably don’t realise but The Horrors were mostly ridiculed during the period around their first album. Whilst a bands image may be something of a must have for bands in the UK to have an audience with the 13-18 demographic it certainly isn’t the case for people who enjoy music for music.

    Sure it was different from what most bands were up to, but bands like 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster were always far superior at this retro-garage revival The Horrors barely seemed relevant musically.

    “To call The Horrors one dimensional isn’t just stating the obvious; it’s like telling a child that Santa only comes once a year. After eleven songs, the band’s inability to stretch their sound starts to take its toll.”

    The stage names (Spider Webb anyone?), the outfits, hairstyles and the whole act actually created quite the backlash. The band themselves have recently stated that they wanted to move forward to show people what they were capable of, which with this new album they certainly have.

    Since the new album came out there have been reviews from people who once hated the Horrors with a passion, now writing that they have produced what they think might be one of the records of the year.

    Maybe you need to listen to the album with a good set of headphones to get the rich and densely layered warm sounds hidden beneath all the noise. If you listen to this on regular speakers or cheap earphones it will sound terrible and your ears will have sorely missed out.

    The Horrors are dead, long live The Horrors.

  • I used to HATE this band. Mostly cause of their image. Their last album isnt so bad. I wouldnt call it anything close to be the best of the yr but i would take a listen, its worth it.

  • @ Lee

    In referencing the Killers I don’t think that is necessarily a knock, as the Killers have a certain pop sensibility that loads of people appreciate. I listened to the loads of layers and sounds, and that is why I suggested peeling it away, as it doesn’t really seem to be the focal point of the album; it covers what I see to be the focus. Alas, to each his own.

  • @ Nathan

    That’s fair enough, beneath the layers I can see what you meant in terms the pop sensibility. I mostly just wanted to point out what I thought was a big leap in terms of their creative spectrum and ended up writing a whole (probably unesseccary) heapload.

    *friendly transatlantic handshake*

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