The great, the good – and me, have gathered at The Church, the recording studio owned by production wunderkind Paul Epworth to listen to selected tracks from The Horrors’ latest album, the appropriately titled V. Large candles drip like melting butter as incense burns our nostrils. Refreshments are quickly partaken of and seats are taken in readiness to have heads blasted off shoulders by two massive speakers.
First track ‘Hologram’ sounds like jet planes – piloted by clones of Gary Numan – taking off and engaging in a dogfight before crashing into each other in an explosion of scraping metal. ‘Machine’, the new single passes by in a riot of heavily gated loops and showers of industrial carnage. ‘Weighed Down’, is their ‘Jo the Waiter’ moment. Surprising not for the acoustic guitar that opens it but for its use on a Horrors album. Epic and grandiose, I’m going to risk the obvious by making comparisons to Bowie and The Pet Shop Boys. Not a bad thing.
On paper The Horrors/Epworth pairing might appear to be a cynical move; an attempt to trade some chart-friendly cachet for indie cred. The results speak differently though. Yes, there are some epic pop juggernauts but constantly tempered by a wilful experimentation that send many of the tracks careening off the rails into chattering squalls of mental machine music. The image of robots fucking comes to mind.
The band and producer emerge for a brief Q&A after the playback. The general consensus confirms the mutual respect and spirit of collaboration between band and producer and a willingness to blur the boundaries between commerce and creativity. Epworth pronounces himself “a great fan” of The Horrors but if further proof was needed the album is being released under his own Wolf Tone label on September 22.
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