Has a band ever undertaken a bigger musical transformation than The Horrors? Think back to the goth-punk Strange House days where you wouldn’t be able to see anything but monochrome and overly hair sprayed hair whereas nowadays we’re treated with multiple records of synth-filled, psychedelic shoegazing hits. 9 years after their formation back in 2005, their fourth album Luminous is about to arrive and it’s taken another turn away from what we’ve come to know as The Horrors.
As soon as you press play on the opening track ‘Chasing Shadows’ you’re hit with 3 minutes of iridescent, shimmering synths until finally the full force of The Horrors kicks in. Frontman Faris Badwan’s lethargic vocals go along with the piercing, glitzy riffs which acts as a big reveal for their move towards “music you can dance to”. Next up is ‘First Day Of Spring’ which is driven by its energetic 60s-esque chord progression from Joshua Hayward leaving the vocals to be left to a pure monotonous tone which Badwan works best.
The second track revealed from Luminous was ‘So Now You Know’ and from the offset it was clear to be the clincher for the whole album. It’s another ‘Still Life’ but with more vigour. Cowan’s worked the synths to the best of his ability to make what can only be said to outshine anything they’ve done before. Again back with the synths is ‘In And Out Of Sight’ but with a more dance feel than its predecessors it’s the beginning of the new psych-electro pop Horrors. The overuse of delay makes it sound more playful and animated which is cancelled out by the continuing daydreaming lyrics.
The swift move to distortion for ‘Jealous Sun’ makes a sly reference back to Strange House which is briefly revisited in subsequent track ‘Falling Star’. Both show off strident riffs but ‘Falling Star’ leans more towards becoming poppy with its upbeat, strenuous approach whereas ‘Jealous Sun’ sticks rigidly to the standard disconcerting, ethereal Horrors style. Soon this is all forgotten about as the seven and a half minute ‘I See You’ Follows. It’s made a return back to the hypnotic synth-filled likes of Primary Colours and Skying but its more brash approach won’t go unnoticed. The once languid vocals have made a turn towards being energised while the erratic, relentless synths have followed the same pattern.
Beginning with a tame drum beat ‘Change Your Mind’ has given percussionist Joe Spurgeon his chance to shine. Despite its subdued slant, it’s the instigator of the track with little else surrounding it. Airy vocals are accompanied by an intermittent guitars, synths and bass making this the staller before the big finale.
Both ‘Mine And Yours’ and ‘Sleepwalk’ finish the record off on a high; they’re both the type of track which want you to fully lose yourself in it. Vocals take a backseat for ‘Mine And Yours’ with fuss-free riffs and spangled synths taking precedence again to making it once again sound all dreamy. Following a firm, rhythmic pace is closer ‘Sleepwalk’ which has the returning erratic riffs we’ve grown to expect but the haywire, shrieking synths add a more unanticipated element which isn’t becoming abnormal for The Horrors.
The Horrors get better and better with every record they release. The setback of Luminous’ release last year left them to fully rethink it and there’s no doubt about it – they used that time well. The complete U-turn of their sound back in 2009 for Primary Colours always left speculation about whether they’d go back to their emo/scene days and even though Luminous is far from Strange House, the two extremes of the slight allusions they make back to their once heavy sound along with the small move towards a more poppy sound go hand in hand perfectly to make this album the best thing they have ever produced.