The Horrors are pretty much the five-person equivalent of what David Bowie did visually, but verbally they are a band that are constantly changing their sound. Long gone is the b-movie horror flick audio from the big-haired, drainpipe goth lads who brought us Strange House. The five-piece have matured with a new psychedelic sound on V.
Opening track ‘Hologram’ will make you question whether it's The Horrors that you are actually listening to. It's only Faris Badwan’s unmistakable voice that reminds you. The whole song sounds euphoric, it's almost an EDM wave track, light years away from the Strange House days. ‘Press Enter to Exit’ has elements of 80’s INXS crossed over with classic indie sounds. However, Joshua Hayward unique guitar surprises rip through the track, reminding listeners that the band have always stood out from the crowd.
The whole feel of V sounds much grander in a way to any of their previous albums. The influences of gloom-rock pioneers, The Cure and Depeche Mode are prominent with the simplicity of their usual, verse, chorus and guitar riff song structure that works in their favour. Unlike previous albums, the production is much better and the homebrewed guitar works of Hayward sound crisp and clear, with Badwan’s voice no longer sounded distorted and distant from the rest of the band.
‘Ghost’, is a very simple melodic pop-track with haunting keys and an odd gritty guitar riff. The song is a long, slow one, but grows into a very heavy funky beat, like recent tracks from the Yeah,Yeah,Yeahs, but other than that, it doesn’t seem to encapsulate any of their early sounds. ‘Point of No Return’, is the catchiest track on the album and contains elements of chill-grooves and '80s pop with an infectious chorus that is bound to get drilled into your head. The stand out track of V is ‘Weighed Down’ as it manages to capture everything that any former fan of The Horrors loved about them. It's melodramatic, dark and Badwan’s voice drifts effortlessly over the moody music. There are very strong elements of Primary Colours to this song, which proves how The Horrors have evolved over time.
The strangest song on the album is ‘Gathering’ but only as it sounds too mellow and brit-pop for the usually outlandish five-piece. ‘World Below’ follows and is nothing truly remarkable but it is certainly a fun and uplifting track in comparison to ‘Gathering’. ‘It’s a Good Life’ is written about the late Peaches Geldof, who vocalist Badwan had dated. The lyrics are rather beautiful and work extremely well with the simplicity of the music.
This is an album that will both divide but also pull in new fans. However, whilst there are clear elements of the former grunge, garage-rock roots that are fighting to be heard through the psychedelic sounds, this is one of most unambitious albums that they have released. There're still a handful of great songs and grand gestures to keep you entertained, but I feel there isn’t enough of the former shock factor to satisfy old fans.
V is available from iTunes.