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Friday, May 8, 2009
The Horrors "Primary Colours"
The big hair, the mascara, the emaciated frames, the all-black get-ups, the BELT BUCKLES! It's difficult to take The Horrors seriously on any level because it's impossible not to receive their visual gestalt as some sort of bad joke that they themselves don't get. Even the name is hilariously obvious. Imagine how people would have initially approached Joy Division if instead they'd named the band Nazi Scum?
But maybe that's the point. There's something refreshingly literal about this U.K. quintet, who manage to produce a wide variety of textures and feelings within the limited musical purview associated with such a name and look. Lead singer Faris Badwan can easily reproduce Ian Curtis's declamatory baritone if the mood is depressive, but he also gets up there into ex-Suede frontman Brett Anderson's campy animal nitrate range if the song calls for more frantic behavior.
And while Spider Webb's omnipresent haunted house keyboards provide the group with their most distinctive aural component, the tunes are anything but monochromatic. Beneath the smeary production that gives much of the record its intimidating cast beats a heart of pure pop sincerity. The seven-minute ballad "I Only Think of You" will have Goth teeny boppers weeping into their black taffeta, and the epic closer, "Sea Within a Sea," is the perfect car song for the new millennium, cruising into the unknown future on a Kraftwerk-like cushion of synth triplets as Badwan moans dreamily about the "new fear that will catch us unawares." What scares you only makes The Horrors stronger.