The Horrors ‘V’ Review
The Horrors have evolved more distinctly than perhaps any other 21st century band. They started off as horror punks (2007’s Strange House), then went into mad scientist mode, offering a mix of goth, shoegaze, and Britpop on releases like 2009’s Primary Colours and 2011’s Skying that wowed critics and cultivated a devoted following.
The band played it a bit safe on their 2014 release Luminous, a solid if unspectacular set of songs that didn’t reach previous heights, but their latest album V (out Sept. 22nd on Wolftone /Caroline), sees them tinkering with their sound yet again, and this latest iteration may just take them from critical darlings to festival headliners.
Hologram is a solid opener, with neon-drenched synths that conjure vintage Gary Numan, allowing vocalist Faris Badwan to whisper sweet nothings over a swirling beat and widescreen chorus. It’s epic in every sense of the word, signaling just how ambitious the group’s sonic attack has become.
Press Enter To Exit is an airy throwback to the “baggy” era of groups like The Stone Roses and Charlatans, with an elastic funky groove and tropical breeze synths primed for the dance floor.
Dance beats are what drives V, more so than any Horrors album before it–take Machine, a grooving slinky number that offers the dark glamour of Suede, with subtle industrial underpinnings and a narcotic pulsing beat that gets under the skin.
Point of No Reply is another club-ready gem, marrying elements of New Order, Depeche Mode and the xx. It’s a classic breakup track with Badwan intoning cool put downs over a krautrock beat: You know you take such pride in making people feel sick. It ends in an icy cascade of white noise that amplifies the cool detachment of the lyrical content.
V is produced by Paul Epworth (fka twigs, Lorde, Rihanna), which gives it a slicker sound than past releases, but still throws the occasional sonic curveball. Ghost is a case in point, a slick darkwave track that infuses blasts of backwards guitars before climaxing into kaleidoscopic glittering synth shards.
Weighed Down marks another shift, this time to oceanic space rock that tips its hat to the Verve, followed-up by the neo-folk trappings of Gathering.
V saves the best for the last with the synth-pop throwback Something to Remember Me By. It might just be the most infectious number of their career, as unforgettably hummable as its title suggests.
V proves The Horrors are back to doing what they do best: crafting sublimely catchy tunes from a multitude of genres, twisting them into new shapes. It should pay off handsomely by expanding their fanbase.
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