The Horrors – Skying (XL)

The Horrors burst onto the British rock scene in 2006 with their simple and direct debut single Sheena Is A Parasite. Their game-changing second album Primary Colours earned them some more street cred, and their third and latest album Skying, self-produced and recorded by the band in their own studio, is their much-anticipated follow-up.

Skying is a synth-heavy psychedelic stew and a logical progression in the canon of British rock, following on from The Charlatans, Pulp, The Cure, Gary Numan, David Bowie and The Verve. The Horrors have dealt nicely with the question of how to make classic chord progressions sound fresh by adding industrial layers of sound to their songs. Singer Faris Badwan’s vocals are by turns murky, sexy, clear and even Nick Cave-esque on second song You Said, which emerges as a floatier and softer tune than the Grinderman would ever produce, and with a chorus that sounds like it’s been put through a wind tunnel.

The intro to I Can See Through You sounds like a sped-up theme song from an 80s British TV show. This bursts into a sing-along chorus where Faris loudly whispers his vocals as though he’s recovering from a cold. “No one remembers your name, no one cares” he rasps, before throwing in some “la la la la las” for good measure.

Endless Blue begins with an intro that sounds as though it’s designed to take drugs to. When the song moves up a gear the first lyrics are “now everyone seems so far away”. Hmm, suspicious. Dive In is a sweaty and pulsating track with a persistent bassline reminiscent of the riff from Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen.

Still Life, the first single from the album, begins with head-nodding bass and psychedelic synth. Faris’s sounds like a sexy boyfriend who’s going to break your heart. “When you wake up you will find me”, he croons, as though he’s still lying in your dirty and disheveled sheets. Somehow you don’t believe him.

Elsewhere in this sonic casserole various intros, outros and bridges sound like alternative soundtracks to The Neverending Story or Dark Crystal. This isn’t an album that you’d clean your house to, get ready to go out to or make love to, but it’s highly recommended for dinner parties, house parties and people who like to party by themselves. It seems Sheena has evolved from a simple parasite into highly decorative and potentially deadly butterfly.

Kathryn van Beek

Click here to listen to Still Life from Skying