The Horrors - Luminous

07 June, 2014

By Dan Owens



The greatest trick that The Horrors ever pulled was convincing the world that they were sh*t. Emerging at a time when music was still reeling from Pete and Carl's severed alliance, Faris Badwan (nee Rotter) and his band of scrawny, ratty-cravated weirdos established an unlistenable niche that preyed on Topshop teens and drove the rest of us to despair. Debut 'Strange House' indiscriminately sullied eardrums and begged to be returned to the indie landfill from whence it came. So potent was its offense that it should, in fact, have been immediately removed from history and labelled an 'unrecord', never again to be played to anyone capable of processing sound. Unless, of course, employed as an instrument of torture. Winston Smith must have been counting his lucky stars.


Fortunately, a lot can change in seven years. Following hot in the footsteps of artistes whose virginal offerings were the unworthy progenitors of subsequent revolutionary recordings (think back to Pablo Honey's overwhelming drabness or the half-baked Dylan-in-Brixton folkery of David Bowie), the Horrors' Primary Colours and Skying deftly synthesised post-punk with Krautrock and silenced critics with luscious walls of noise and an effervescent experimentalism. Otherworldly sheen shook hands with obtuse lyricism. The world stopped aghast and looked around in confusion. Then it realised that beneath the posturing lay genuine musical talent. The Horrors had finally arrived.


Shelving their nausea-summoning pop in a quest to make serious art, this sea within a sea change is the reason that The Horrors and Pollock-like interpretations of sound are now as closely intermingled as Steven Gerrard's tears and the grass of the nation's football pitches.


Since they've been away, it seems that their lust for the seismic has only gotten wilder. Forget the big-budget pomposity of Bryan Cranston's new popcorn flick, The Horrors' 'Luminous' is this summer's most impressive monster. Painstakingly assembled (presumably from the debris of smashed-up '80s synthpop records) over an intense two-year period of creativity, the band's fourth long player may stick to the kaleidoscopic principles of Skying but it's just as vital as its predecessor.


Opener Chasing Shadows is a slow-burning gem that gently unfurls, its warm synthesiser-created smog congealing and evolving into an undulating beast, brash and rampaging, an epic introduction to the record's Godzilla-sized proportions. Suggesting infinite possibility, it's when the opener departs, that this incitement to change is met head-on. The Baggy guitars that frame First Day of Spring are reminiscent of 'Leisure'-era Blur. Just when it seems that there's no other way that The Horrors can bend their sound, Luminous becomes a concerted effort to populate the dancefloor. The see-sawing melodies that back the wondrously anthemic So Now You Know and the chunky synths that feed the obsessive Mine and Yours thrust up against the fluttering electronica of In and Out of Sight in a satisfying orgy of thrown shapes and disconcerting heartache.


Far from chilled, the hip-swinging heart of 'Luminous' does not dilute the Horrors' urgency and primitivism. Even when the songs venture past the five minute mark (as they often do), their energy rarely lets up. I See You, the insolent and earth-shattering juggernaut that trumpeted their return is the track that communicates this dance-punk fusion most successfully. Lyrically admonishing and musically rich, it canters along on an ferocious electronic wave before galloping serenely into a maelstrom of fuzzy guitar and pummelling keys, building and building (and building) to a super-charged pay-off that could would not sound out of place in a sweaty Ibizan club.


Inciting an all-out genre war, on Luminous, psychedelic swirls trade blows with processed rhythms. When the record does call time on itself after the Bonham beat of Sleepwalk fades away, it's akin to a ceasefire. Though he promotes a kind of clairvoyance on 'I See You', it's doubtful that even Faris could have foreseen The Horrors' ascent into musical royalty. If Primary Colours and Skying  put them in line for the throne, Luminous is the pomp and circumstance of their coronation.


How will you feel when you hear it for yourself? Mostly likely, you'll be met with frissons of euphoria and invincibility. All complimented by a renewed joie de vivre. The Horrors are the most exciting and inventive band on the planet right now. And, given their ethereal majesty, the most exciting and inventive band in the universe. 'Luminous' is a record that dares to reach for the stars but ends up shining more intensely than the brightest of them.







Primary Genre: Synth Pop

Secondary Genre: Post-punk, Krautrock

Release Date: May 5, 2014

Label: XL

Like this and you'll probably also like: New Order, TOY, Echo and the Bunnymen

Album highlights: So Now You Know, In and Out of Sight, I See You






The Horrors - I See You





The Horrors - So Now We Know