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album review: the horrors, skying

It’s The Horrors, but not quite as you know them.

Look at the album cover. It has colour, lots and lots of colour. That should be a hint. Well, not too much of a hint; this is The Horrors after all.

Skying fits perfectly into The Horrors’ repertoire, started by Strange House and continued by Primary Colours. Looking back at their debut in all its over-the-top, macabre glory, it’s almost a shock to hear how much this band has changed – ripened – in the past four years. Strange House sounded like exactly what it is – a thrilling first album from a bunch of promising young lads. These boys then went on to grow up quickly for Primary Colours, where gone is the previous punk theatricality and in its place are ten songs, unbearably yet compellingly bleak.

Now we are given Skying. From the first track, ‘Changing The Rain’, with its introduction of vaguely tribal percussion, it’s evident that something has changed. The heavy guitar distortion of Primary Colours has morphed into funereal synth, and the urgency shown by vocalist Faris Badwan in Strange House has lessened – instead we have mature, controlled vocals that have the spirit of Ian Curtis about them (only less anguished…though that’s a bit redundant, isn’t it?).

This album, though still retaining the band’s characteristically heavy sound, is less aggressive than their first, less depressively introverted than their second. Think about the title – the band has taken the sky and turned it into a verb. Their music has become brighter, a feel undoubtedly influenced by the constant presence of eighties-esque, shoegaze synth. In ‘Endless Blue’, even despite the intense guitar riff that appears about halfway through, the sound has a lighter quality to it.

There isn’t really a standout track, though in lieu of any other candidate, the lead single, ‘Still Life’, can respectably take the title, with ‘Changing The Rain’ coming in for silver. If there is a problem with Skying, it is probably that – that the songs, fitting so well together, perhaps don’t stand on their own as well as they could. As a result, this album will probably garner fine reviews from critics, but fly under the radar as far as the general public are concerned.

Still, as long as you’re reading this, it means that Skying is not going completely unnoticed. And so it shouldn’t.

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