It’s uncommon to encourage loved ones to walk towards the light – rather, they’re told to turn from its lure. But with this fourth album, The Horrors have given into temptation. Kiss goodbye to the boys who made ‘Jack The Ripper’, as ‘Luminous’ buries that band forever.
Of course, The Horrors of 2011’s ‘Skying’ (review) were already well distanced from the fashionable grottiness of ‘Strange House’. But this London five-piece’s 2007 debut, despite its flaws, at least sang with an us-against-the-rest attitude. It felt like the work of a gang – a characteristic that all great bands exude.
Since then, injecting colour into proceedings, from ‘Scarlet Fields’ to an ‘Endless Blue’, has seen The Horrors court greater plaudits, but at the expense of the fires that powered their initial ascent. ‘Luminous’, as its title evidences, is their brightest album to date, casting only shallow shadows across its vibrant, if familiar, vistas; a midday sun of a set that showcases a band of matured ability.
Confidence is a key factor in The Horrors’ continuing success. Frontman Faris Badwan is now the owner of a voice to call his own, rather than one leaning on goth and punk influences, and he lets it dance deliriously atop the shimmering guitars of ‘Jealous Sun’ and the cantering ‘First Day Of Spring’. Everything hums as it should, ship-shape and Bristol fashion.
And yet, is that what we want from The Horrors: a record that raises their eyes-on-the-Mercury-Prize game a little, in its coherency and compositional aptitude, but without any significant spark of affronting attitude? Take Badwan away and these songs are by whom, exactly?
There’s no denying that ‘Luminous’ is a handsome collection, and every now and then it does step beyond the light psychedelia its makers have mastered: ‘In And Out Of Sight’ is all synthetic pulses and gauzy guitars, and a little bit wonderful. But across its 10 tracks, the album focuses more on the complete experience than unexpected instances of sidestepping intrigue.
Which means, for a 21st century release, it’s a pleasingly old-fashioned entity. It’s a welcoming experience, an embrace from a band that used to want to boot your shins in – and the polite deathblow that finally downs the puckish Horrors of old. May their winklepickers forever poke through the topsoil.
Words: Mike Diver
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Listen to 'Luminous' in full below, via Deezer...