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Album of the year contender from Faris Badwan and the boys
Paul Nolan, 10 Aug 2011
What a turnaround it’s been for The Horrors. When the London quintet first emerged, they were essentially a Cramps knock-off with a few good tunes, but they seemed destined for a decidedly limited shelf-life. The perception of the band changed spectacularly with 2009’s phenomenal Primary Colours – one of the finest rock records of recent years – which found Faris Badwan and the boys retaining some subtle goth influences, but also pulling off brilliantly realised excursions into shoegaze, psychedelia and krautrock.
Expectations are naturally high for the follow-up, Skying, and thankfully The Horrors don’t disappoint. Strikingly, all traces of goth have now been removed; this is fundamentally a psych-rock record, and indeed in the accompanying promo shots the boys have ditched the black jumpers and long fringes, and look halfway presentable.
From the cover – an ethereal sea/sky combo with lens flare at the periphery – to the vague, fuzzy song titles (‘Endless Blue’, ‘Moving Further Away’), Skying is a very tripped-out kind of album, with echoes of the early ’90s shoegaze brigade (My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive etc.) However, The Horrors have the happy knack of always putting their own distinctive twist on familiar reference points.
The opening tracks, ‘Changing The Rain’ and ‘You Said’, are brilliantly executed exercises in psych-pop, the former boasting shoegaze guitars and a naggingly catchy chorus, the latter sparkling keyboards and the hypnotic end refrain, “You gotta give me more”. ‘I Can See Through You’ melds a Neu!-like bass groove with dreamy guitar to stunning effect, but ‘Endless Blue’ is the first track that really indicates just how special an album Skying is.
The first half of the song is a melancholy instrumental slice of psychedelia, boasting eerie keyboards and inspired use of brass, while the second half finds the tune erupting into a blazing rocker, with Badwan howling that, “Everyone seems so far away”.