The Horrors – York Hall, London – 17/6/2011

Originally published: Clash Magazine

Images: Natalie Seery

There is something quite apt about The Horrors’ choice of venue for tonight’s airing of their new album ‘Skying’. The world famous East End boxing hall that has stood since 1929 was threatened with closure in 2004, only to survive thanks to investment and a new direction. The Horrors, who were dropped by Loog Records after poor sales from their 2007 debut ‘Strange House’ (a chaotic and clumsy record that thumbed blindly at rock music’s sharper edges), would return with their second album ‘Primary Colours’ in 2009 to a critically acclaimed reception and a Mercury Music prize nomination for their efforts.

One theory is that they let out the seam of their jeans by an inch; another is to do with the album’s all-star production (Craig Silvey, Geoff Barrow) and creative team (Chris Cunningham); another is that they stopped doing photo shoots and went away and did their homework, instead of being branded a style of content act. Whatever they did, it worked, and The Horrors continue to flourish with their third album ‘Skying’.

And as the sky rings every last droplet out from the clouds above, The Horrors open with ‘Changing The Rain’ – the opening song of their new album. It’s a ruminating track with a steady Stone Roses swagger, cascading synths and a rousing key change that seeps seamlessly into ‘Scarlet Fields’. Any peace that it may have instilled into the audience is stolen, though, as the alarm bell ring of ‘Three Decades’ rushes into action at the snap of a snare drum and the sound of guitars being swung around like chainsaws.

Tracks from ‘Strange House’ are left firmly locked in the cupboard, as The Horrors continue to distance themselves from their style over content debut. Instead, their set is dedicated to the best of ‘Primary Colours’ and the auspicious future of their new material.

It may be a future that they look into with a sullen, forlorn expression, but their music continues to step forward with a maturing gate. ‘Endless Blue’ opens with a lysergic-glaze of soft percussion and simmering synths, only for a Stooges-esque riff to smash headlong into its stillness like a hammer on glass. Similarly, the juddering pace that electrifies ‘I Can See Through You’ takes on a vicious life of its own.

Until ‘Skying’ has time to seep into the public’ consciousness, it’s the likes of ‘Sea Within A Sea’ and ‘Mirror’s Image’ that continue to animate the crowd on the night. But with ‘Moving Further Away’ building and brooding for an exhilarating eight-minutes of experimental orchestration, The Horrors continue to prove they are on fighting form and unified over their musical identity.


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