The Horrors – Skying
Brush aside the style over substance critique of Strange House, come to terms with the revelation of Primary Colours – we shouldn't waste a further word on such matters. Skying, the self-produced third LP from The Horrors, is of the highest calibre indeed.
Trickling to life with a slur of maracas, Changing The Rain layers drones and processed strings with a pile-driving bass-line splatter reminiscent of vintage Mani. Faris Badwan dejectedly harps away on You Said, crestfallen and searing in shame ‘after the crash’, until an upsurge of indignation at having been ‘put aside and forgotten, barely left alive’ beckons the crashing of cymbals, awash with synthetic flutters and the clanking chimes of church-bells at dawn. I Can See Through You hurls into overdrive, with the ghost of Boys Keep Swinging Bowie redeeming admittedly trite lyrics.
Deviating with a slower number, Endless Blue is decorated with warm brass refrains until the mist is torn down by Hayward’s spurning guitar dirge, unveiling Badwan’s rapt vocals ‘everything seems so far behind’ as though clasping to a branch up high. The tremor of shakers and an eerily stroking guitar hook pervade Dive In. With wretched despondency at ‘the way it is, the way it goes, the way it gets you down’, the bass heaves ahead into a restrained bridge, prompting an inexorable fracture that demonstrates The Horrors’ disciplined emotive reins.
Saturated with thin nuances like weaving ancient mantras, Still Life ascends into sheer immersion, an epiphany made of wafting winds and billowing breezes. The chirping reverberations of Wild Eyed resemble an insect masquerade or an optical illusion, until dewy drumming ushers in the rays of brass to end rather cheerily. Plunging into Moving Further Away, the pacey set-closer lopes like a sparked gunpowder trail, whilst seagulls squawk before the mesmeric steam engine is shattered by a beastly squall. Seemingly out of context, Monica Gems is raw and abrasive, a vitriolic portrait that becomes unexpectedly fulfilling. Bringing down the curtains, Oceans Burning is woebegone and finite, reducing the listener to a pensive lull, yet storming out in piqued defiance.
An accomplished record showcasing The Horrors’ eclecticism, Skying is undeniable derivate though not to its discredit. As though stylistically snorkelling, one can vividly detect the more glorious elements of Suede and Simple Minds, the sprawling synthesizers of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and the tunnel vision chasms of Neu! Falling foul of a double-edged sword, The Horrors are both condemned for the idiosyncrasy of their irritating appearance, whilst also sold short by musical comparisons. Yet the musical integrity of this eye-catching bunch has been nurtured by a wealth of distinguished influences, boldly flaunted in compositions that make Skying a curiously individual creation.