As the years go on and the landscape continues to change at an increasingly accelerated pace with respect to the way we consume and ultimately appreciate music, those of us who tend to still view our favourite music near and dear to our hearts always find ourselves heartened when we find that kinship with an artist who (we think) looks at the romance of music the same way we do. It’s rare in this day and age where it seems the clock has turned back decades and find ourselves back to a music industry dominated by the single and less so by the complete compilation of songs we call an album. It’s eve n more rare to find a band that actually still manages to accomplish the feat of getting better with each successive record and in the case of the Horrors, making it to five records at all.
The Essex band had their share of fanfare NME-style in the beginning leading up to the release of their blistering 2007 debut record Strange House with its infectious vignettes of post-punk that enthusiastically referenced seminal legends such as the Cramps, the Birthday Party, Bauhaus and the Stooges. As good as the record was, it was fair to wonder if the band had staying power. It would turn out that the Horrors would put those fears pretty quickly and quite emphatically with an almost 180 degree change in musical direction. The scope become much wider. The guitars more expansive in a way that Phil Spector would have approved while the synths became less of an effect and more of an integral part of the band’s sound in 2009’s Primary Colours. 2011’s Skying would find the band embracing accessibility as the songs become more melodic and the vocals of Faris Badwan evolved from the yelps and howls of Strange House to a much more tune-friendly baritone. Luminous would continue along the same path in 2014 with the band employing a more synth-friendly direction thanks to the increasing influence of keyboardist Tom Furse. By this point, it had become quite clear that the Horrors were in it for the long haul and have become one of those bands you can count on to wow you with every release they put out.
That brings us to V. With the new record, their fifth, it’s possible to make the case that they just might have outdone themselves and outpaced their contemporaries yet again. Having said that, I must pause in my effusive praise to offer but a small disclaimer: If you are a fan of the band that wore their Strange House influences on their sleeves, I regret to inform you that that band is no more. The progression is complete and the Horrors have become what every great band worth their salt accomplish when they reach their imperial period. They’ve become a great pop band.
V takes you a journey that Luminous merely hinted at. A wider scope of sound where the guitar and beat are intertwined harmoniously. The indie aesthetic remains the bedrock but with a contemporary uptempo dance veneer applied to magnificent effort. There are influences of legends from yesteryear to be found and spotted like easter eggs to be sure. From the industrial pop of tracks such as the album opener Hologram and leadoff single Machine, you can hear traces of the great Gary Numan or a song like Gathering where you wouldn’t be wrong if you thought more than a faint whisper of a young David Bowie circa Space Oddity to The Man Who Sold The World. For good measure, I dare say the boys must have been huge fans of the Modular Recordings roster of the late aughts for the influence of bands such as Cut Copy, the Presets or Van She can’t be missed throughout the entirety of V. Nowhere is it more apparent than in album closer and arguably the band’s finest pop moment, the current single Something To Remember Me By.
Suffice it to say that if somehow this band has missed your ear to this point, it’s high time to take the plunge and purchase this record. It’s records like these that restore your faith in the magic of the LP. For this, I am eternally thankful and you should be as well.