For about five minutes in 2007, London’s The Horrors were `the next big thing’ and darlings of the NME. Name, Image and Music were all tied together in a Rocky Horror Picture Show pastiche but once the dust settled and people were actually expected to part with their money, they didn’t. For all the pomp and hoop lauded upon them, it was easy to overlook or dismiss the notion that the music could be any good…but it actually was. Strange House wasn’t amazing but it had some good tunes and a much needed dramatic darkness. It seems they simply failed under the weight of their own contrived image. Chalk it up to youth, naivety or bad marketing but thankfully that Halloween look has discreetly been washed off, and two years on, a more velvet underground cool attained. More importantly the music has shifted also, from the gothic scream short shocks of Strange House to the noise/shoegaze/krautrock of Primary Colours. Hurrah!
Whether The Horrors intended it or not Primary Colours seems a very apt album title for this new direction, for whereas Strange House was very black and white, Primary Colours is blue, yellow and red (not the full spectrum, they wouldn’t dare!). Not yet anyway.
Even though I’ve already started, I’m going to start again by simply saying that this album is fantastic. God knows what the expectations were of this band after the media forgot all about them two years ago, and for many of those who never expected to see them again, you only need to listen to the first 90 seconds of “Mirrors Image,” the album’s opening track to get an overwhelming feeling of rebirth. A pulsating kick drum surrounded by hollow church organs and synth lead the way for bass heaven before a clattering of snare adds the colour and vocalist Faris Rotter joins in with “is it her way, is it the way she looks at you?” It’s almost too much, it’s almost five minutes long. It’s like hearing “I Wanna Be Adored” for the first time again. Whatever you felt about the Horrors before, you now have more reason to love them, as the group is a different beast entirely.
With a tone now set, this album takes you on a dark synth-laden journey through ten pulsating tracks. Fans of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain will find their influence etched amongst songs like “Three Decades,” “Who Can Say” and “Do You Remember.” Producer Geoff Barrow’s (of Portishead) influence can be felt on opener “Mirror’s Image,” “Scarlet Fields” and the krautrock of album closer “Sea within a Sea.” There are even shades of The Monks on “I Can’t Control Myself.” I don’t know when I’ve ever been able to say that about a song. The album feels complete and fully realised, you can tell it is the sum of all its very talented parts, not just a one-man show with a backing band.
Be careful not to let this record slip under your radar, find a way to own it, and expect to be voting for it in end of year polls. What a triumph.
Video: “Who Can Say”