Primary Colours CD - XL / Beggars Group
The Horrors’ second album, Primary Colours, will hopefully be the album where the music press finally stops talking about the band’s clothes and focuses on the music. Upon their arrival a few years back, the Southend, England, group were only the latest in an endlessly revolving line-up of po-faced post-punk bands splattered across NME covers, and have since been usurped by the likes of Glasvegas. But, following a slew of singles (including the iconic “Sheena Is a Parasite”) and one under-appreciated long-player, 2007’s Strange House, The Horrors vanished for long enough that some people forgot to wonder what they were up to, this writer included.
Turns out they were busy making one of the best post-shoegaze albums in recent memory. Co-produced by Portishead visionary Geoff Barrow, Primary Colours actually sounds grimier than the band’s trebly, distended early singles: the guitars lurch and swoon like libidinous drunks, and the album as a whole feels suspended in an opiate haze. Anchoring the record’s imposing atmospherics is a killer batch of pop songs. “Who Can Say” matches standard girl-group dynamics to a hateful Cramps riff with uncommon grace. Meanwhile, guitarist Joshua Third manages the nigh-impossible feat of wringing genuinely new and compelling sounds out of his instrument on “Three Decades” and “New Ice Age”; the riffs stab like shards of ice, bend and refract, overdriven yet clean and jangly all at once. (Third allegedly builds his own guitar pedals.) Farris Badwan has refined his vocal delivery into a ghoulish New Romantic croon, which lends something like real heart to the motorik chug of “Sea Within a Sea.”
Speaking of which, the fact that the band chose a nine-minute, multi-movement krautrock epic as the lead single for their first record in years should give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here: a gang of punk rockers who don’t give a fuck about punk rock. And God knows we need more of them around.
By Matthew V. DeWitt