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Self-produced and recorded in The Horrors' own self-built studio in London's Dalston, Skying was mixed by Grammy Award winner Craig Silvey. Featuring ten new tracks including single "Still Life", Skying is the band's third album following 2009's Mercury Prize nominated Primary Colours and their debut Stange House which was released in 2007.
The Horrors know all about deceptive appearances. Their mid-00s emergence saw the music press in a lather, hype peaking with inevitable derision creeping forth from (perhaps rightly) cynical corners of the blogosphere. Garage-punk squall, a look (and sound) that was half-Birthday Party, half-Cramps, undertones of something decidedly goth: while the Southend-spawned band presented a great-looking package, the style-over-substance accusers were many. But the distorted riffs of the band's 2007 debut Strange House would give way to something else. By blindsiding with an assault designed to divide, the five-piece managed to work away in the shadows on a second LP that reinvented them as psychedelic Krautrock cosmonauts. Primary Colours, said set, couldn't have been better received. Doubters changed their tunes, and the Mercury Prize panel responded with a nomination. In a year of weak competition, it should have won.
So it's no surprise to find that album three positions The Horrors in a brand-new musical era; for them, anyway. From the modular melodies and hypnotic hooks of Primary Colours, distinctly 70s in design, they've landed in the 80s with anthemic synth-powered pop-rock at the height of its commercial powers. This much is perfectly clear from this collection's lead track, Still Life, which presents such parallels with Simple Minds that it's a wonder deeper research doesn't reveal it to be a forgotten cut penned by Jim Kerr around 1982. It's instantly engaging, backwards instrumentation opening a piece that sprawls for over five minutes without ever feeling lazy, or over-long. At the centre, frontman Faris Badwin is in the best vocal form of his career, his measured power a lifetime's schooling away from the unhinged screams of Sheena Is a Parasite. The control he conveys perfectly suits music which is shiny in all the right ways, cool and crisp and clear but never delivered without heart. Opener Changing the Rain walks a similar stylistic path, too.
But Still Life isn't the tone-setting offering some might expect it to be. As with Primary Colours, which was introduced by the eight-minute drone-goes-disco (in a German space station, circa 1975) workout of Sea Within a Sea but ultimately scattered itself across the shop, this album throws many different shapes across its run time. And the songs are given adequate space to develop fully - nothing here clocks in at under four minutes, and four of the 10 tracks stretch for over five. The Horrors well and truly don't trade in short-and-sharp shocks these days; rather, their songwriting has found new arenas to grow into, and the results throughout Skying are never less than captivating. Take Endless Blue, which opens with loping percussion and tooting brass - it threatens to meander meaninglessly, albeit prettily; but then the band detonates a couple of unseen grenades just before the two-minute mark, and the piece becomes a nuclear-powered Oasis with Bowie on vocals. And it gets better: a grunge-like squeal in the guitars cracks and in come the synths, lifting Badwan's performance to never-before-reached heights. Moving Further Away pulls a similar trick, initially deceiving with Human League keys before transforming into a Neu!-meets-New Order-does-Nirvana stratosphere-popping symphony for analogue-lovers; as it becomes louder, so the layers stack, and the effect is mesmerising. Closer Oceans Burning is the band's most beautiful number yet, a kind of Cocteau Twins/Echo and the Bunnymen hybrid that glimmers in the album's final streams of fading light.
There's no fault to be found with Skying - truly, every song here hits its mark, and while The Horrors are evidently a band happy to change its spots from record to record (and steal a few licks, too), only the most ungracious of observers could deny that they've now crafted two of the finest British albums of recent years. From the most incongruous of beginnings they've become national treasures in waiting, and now possess the ability to realise any ambitions. Their New Gold Dreams have become brilliantly real.
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Top Customer Reviews
The overall feel is melancholic and uplifting in one, with shoegaze drones, up tempo drums and floating synths. Real 80's translations, without a rip off feel. The quality here represents a band writing from a place of respect for its influences and the desire to do something new and different. If you have the bands I've mentioned above in your collection, and Stereolab, and The Cure and Kasabian then buy this, and listen a few times. I'll be checking out the previous albums now.
It's crept it's way into my top 10 albums of all time list (no such list exists, only in my mind so don't bother searching Amazon) and is nearly 100% pure perfection. Of course there's no such thing as the perfect album so they shouldn't feel bad. The album opens up with the sublime "Changing The Rain", the gorgeous "You Said" and the uplifting "I Can See Through You".
The album carries an air of psychedelia in most of its tracks with backwards guitars and surreal lyrics throughout. Special mention must go to the musicianship, the drums are clinical but never overdone ("Monica Gems" a high watermark), the bass is basic but in the best possible way, the guitar work has shades of shoegaze in there (only one guitar solo can be found) and the keyboards are hugely influential which give the album the atmospheric touch it craves.
"Endless Blue" is a song of enduring beauty and one which i'll never tire of. It has a Prog Rock (don't get scared) touch to it, but unlike it's forebearers from yesteryear, doesn't take 10 minutes to get going. It's the strongest song on the album and one which I forged a strong bond with on my holiday to Ibiza (crazy f***ing San Antonio) this year.
The only song which (slightly) lets this wonderful album down is "Oceans Burning" which somehow petered the album out.Read more ›
There is little doubt that some of the more purist Horrors fans may recoil and find this album a tad to commercial. "Endless Blue" for example is all lovely slabs of almost Miles Davis trumpet sounding synths until mid way through it breaks into a huge guitar riff not heard since Jesus and Mary Chain ruled the earth.Read more ›
I've listened to it several times and it just gets better.
Their unique style of music in this album reminds me of Kraftwerk mixed with Rock music.
Seriously worth a listen!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm going to write a review of this album that suits the purpose of this website - Amazon - unlike 95% of people who review music purchases on here. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Johnsmith1998
First heard horrors at Glastonbury a few years back with still life. This album is full of great tracks which are really catchy. Read morePublished 12 months ago by john
Bought as a gift for my daughter who is a big Horrors fan, and said it represented a change from their earlier work.Published 21 months ago by J F Sadler
Whats taken me so long to discover The Horrors.
I caught "So now you know" on Jools Holland and bought Luminous on the back of that , been inspecting their previous... Read more
Loved seeing the band a couple of festivals in summer 2013. A couple of stand up tracks in my opinion, in that Kasabian vibePublished on 21 Aug. 2013 by P. Holland