I’m a sucker for delay. Take any guitar line and run it through some delay, distortion and reverb and you’ve got me pretty well sold. So when I first chucked in Primary Colours, the latest mind bending effort from monochrome goth-shoegaze outfit The Horrors, I was smitten straight away.
Produced by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow as well as Craig Silvey and Come To Daddy video director Chris Cunningham, the album has a sombre yet somewhat triumphant feel to it. Singer Faris Badwan delivers haunting and fractured vocals throughout the album while the rest of the band blend themselves together seamlessly building a giant shiny piece of spaced out glory.
It’s a dramatic improvement on their debut Strange House, with the band fully embracing a broader sound heavily influenced by artists such as Jesus & Mary Chain, The Cure and others. What really sets The Horrors aside is that while they may be influenced by these artists they manage to find someway to make it their own.
The whole time I’ve been listening to this album I know it sounds like someone, but none of the names I can come up with quite fit. There’s some Joy Division here a bit Neu! There, but it’s neither one nor the other. To be honest it’s quite frustrating but the music is also quite calming so it sort of balances out.
First track Mirror’s Image opens the album by drawing the listener into a spooky, almost aquatic soundscape that is very reminiscent of Brian Eno’s early work. About a minute or so in though the song swiftly changes direction, launching into a soaring shoegaze epic with Faris highlighting his unique voice.
Second Track Three Decades has the shimmering synth sound in it that I can’t get enough of. The whole track is a softly undulating soundscape. The guitars and bass fade in and out as different effects pedals and delay are applied and god knows what’s going on with the synths.
Next track Who Can Say, the new single in memory serves, is definitely the most straightforward of the tracks on the album but in no way does this diminish it’s quality. The guitar is relentless while the synths are ethereal and difficult to keep track of while the drums are rock solid.
About halfway through singer Faris Badwan delivers a brief piece of spoken word about breaking up, and despite the overdone and adolescent nature of the content, manages to do so in a very interesting way.
Do You Remember reminds me of Spiritualised if Spaceman did Ice and Junk instead of Acid and Pills. The guitars walk this great line between the Jesus & Mary Chain and The Brian Jonestown Massacre while the drums again remain tighter than a nun’s schedule.
The whole album is great though, each song slightly changing the mood and drawing you in to an altogether different yet still relatable musical space. I read another reviewer who described the album as something along the lines of ‘musical collage’ saying the band deliver a steady parade of influences along in an ever changing spectacle. I agree to some degree but I feel this album is more like some fucked sort of musical origami.
Influences have been folded in on top of each other, twisted turned and folded again until in the end your holding something you’d never expect to have come out of what you started with. It’s still paper, just like this album is still shoegaze-postpunk-krautrock-whatever-NME’s-term-of-the-week-is, but what’s been done with that is new, interesting and exciting, all even more so when you consider The Horrors are the first hype band in about ten years to deliver a second album that is not only as good as the first but actually better.