The Horrors’ hyperbolic introduction to the grand stage of popular culture came as quite a surprise for many new music proponents. For those of us who live outside of Shoreditch’s trendy microcosm, the image of five grown men enduring ridiculously tight funeral attire whilst sporting equally inane haircuts adorning the front cover of the NME appeared rather tripe. At this time, the band had not even stepped foot into the studio to record their eponymous debut and allegations of style over substance were being peddled around as the band wagon rolled out of town, but we all knew of their presence through the intentions and influence of the mass media.
Their untried and tested immediacy upon the scene was a tell of our consumerist integrity of 2007 as the androgynous offspring of The Munsters stood before us, prepackaged with all the hype and interchangeable Lego men hair to boot. ‘Buy now, pay later’ was the manifesto, and we sure did: The Horrors’ commercial sell appeared frangible in the aural light of day, and for those of us who bought into it all, we are left forcing a foppish Screaming Lord Sutch tribute act into our record collection in the form of their debut album ‘Strange House’.
2009 arrives and we find ourselves crippled by our liberal spending attitudes of yesteryear and pinching the pennies towards what is propagated in materialistic industries as a result, and The Horrors’ ‘Primary Colours’ is already being forced down our throats as the must have album of the year, so much so that you can almost feel the rhetoric burning holes is our pockets.
‘Primary Colours’, however, is worth all the media embroidery that stitches the fabric of The Horrors’ tailored poise together; and now, pragmatically speaking, they sound the part, too. Gone are the days of ‘Strange House’ and its obstreperous garage-shock-rock pantomime performed by puppets; ‘Primary Colours’ is more a meticulous and sagacious impression of verve and production.
For the band’s influences in this album bathe in the credence of the shoegazing and psychedelic progressives of yore. Opener, “Mirror’s Image”, sets the pace with an undulating wave of spluttering electronic kicks akin to Kraftwerk circa ‘Radioactivity’ before a wall of My Bloody Valentine guitar echos along to Faris Badwan’s gothic howl of “walk on into the night”.
Swamped in the iniquity and the scuzzy pastiche of American garage-rock, ‘Strange House’ lacked direction in its detail and finality; ‘Primary Colours’ shows in progression and conscience. “Sea Within A Sea”, the debut single from the album, proved an audacious eight-minute odyssey of layered orchestration that one might think would become laborious and dry with time, instead flourishes with brooding Eno-electronica.
“Three Decades” and the album’s title track drive with sweeping pop credibility behind a swirling haze of guitars and anthemic keys, and the shoegazing romanticism of the Echo And The Bunnymen-esque “Do You Remember” are all key notes to how far The Horrors’ have ascended in warranting such verbose statements of grandeur.
As a body of work, ‘Primary Colours’ far surpasses any preconceived expectations you could possibly have of a band after faltering out of the blocks with their debut, and you are often left wondering if it is the same Horrors you initially sold into. Much will be argued with regards to Geoff Barrow (Protishead), Craig Silvey and Chris Cunningam’s influence upon such the surprisingly expansive sound that orchestrates this album’s emotionally morose warblings, but what we are faced with here is a soundscape of customer satisfaction.