When the Horrors first grabbed attention in 2007 with a video directed by reclusive Aphex Twin associate Chris Cunningham, you could literally feel the buzz wash over you, even if the band’s frantic post-punkabilly attack seemed one-dimensional. A second dimension was added in the form of audience baiting live shows that still got the UK music press in a lather 30 years after the Sex Pistols were gobbed upon. But the general consensus was that these five gothed-out dandies were more style than substance. Fortunately, Cunningham wasn’t the only ’90s auteur to see past the hype.
The Horrors second album, Primary Colours, was produced by Geoff Barrows of Portishead, a fact that makes the astonishing jump this band has made only slightly less astounding. True, singer Faris Badwan still has an B’la Lugosi affect that will make as many cringe as swoon. But his lyrics have evolved into the sort of primal poetry perviously mastered by The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid, or maybe even ’60s proto-goth crooner Dion:
“And when I told her I didn’t love her anymore,
And when I told her, her kisses were not like before,
And when I told her another girl had caught my eye,
And I kissed her, with a kiss that could only mean goodbye.“
But the real dark knights of Primary Colours are guitarist Josh Third (formerly Von Grimm), Timothy Furse and Spyder Webb (the latter two swapped keyboard and bass duties since the first albums.) Whatever alchemy they conjured with the transition, the three instruments meld into a spine tingling sonic fog that envelopes the record with ectoplasmic sounds that seem as though they might have been conjured by Can or My Bloody Valentine (Kevin Shields is also a fan). As such, there’s really no understating the accomplishments found on this record. If The Horrors began as a Halloween novelty, Primary Colours is like a twisted ending right out of the Twilight Zone’a hype beast that turned out to be a real monster.