The Horrors – live review
Manchester Academy 3
June 16 2011
So it’s act 3 of the Horrors story.
Gone are those great, weird stage names, the garage band rush and the great image- all replaced by a hypnotic groove that is now turning into a brilliant dark and weird neo-trance pop.
The band, who appeared five years ago, in a flurry of great hair, neo goth gear, great cheekbones and a great attitude were soundtracked by fuzzed out rushes of garage rock before swerving into tripped out bliss rock have jumped again.
The new stuff is another step into the abyss of the big time, there is a touch more polish to the new tunes, a moving their new sound into something the mainstream could sniff at.
The polish hasn’t detracted from their spook though and the band still have that darkness that makes them intriguing. The new album, Skying, is out on July 11th and is a further trip into a heart of darkness, future trance pop that the band have become so adept at.
Dipping a toe in the water the band are playing some low key gigs, readying the new album, introducing their fanatical fan base to their next phase.
There are squeals of delight when they enter the stage- bands like this always get the fierce love. There was plenty of abuse when they got that famous NME front cover, no-one ever seems to like a band that comes from nowhere, especially a band that dresses up and has a cocky swagger- but surely that’s what rock n roll is all about- who wants a journeyman when you can have the flash!
The abuse, though, solidified the kids that got the band and the first shows were verging on hysteria as the band toured the UK.
Venues were packed with skinny kids in polka dots and teased hair and the band’s wheezing garage rock was a great soundtrack. They were a mini revolution- a mini punk rock grenade in the middle of the indie sludge.
Five years is a long time in rock n roll and the band have moved in leaps and bounds. As much as I love that first album (am I the only one? most people dismiss it now) and their effective 90 second garage rushes, I also love the second album’s soundscapes. The critics loved this new Horrors and the new post My Bloody Valentine flavoured dreamscapes of Primary Colours were all at once shocking and well executed.
It still sounds great live, Joshua Hayward’s guitar is amazing; the sound which gells with Tom Cowan’s spooked keybaords is molten and twisted, like Kevin Shields but taken out there beyond especially on Who can Say where it’s pure hypnosis. Mesmerising. Sometimes it’s a great wall of distorted sound, the next song it can be delicate flavours and chiming trance like textures- it’s a long way from the garage rattle.
This trance like Horrors are so effective. It’s like the band who grew up with classic sixties psychedelia have re-invented it as a psychedelia of their own- a 21st century tripped out psyche rock where the drones and the grooves combine for a stunning experience. It’s like a new millennium version of what Joy Division were doing during post punk. The same sort of intensity and darkness, combining man and machine, the humanity of the guitars and vocals with the motornik drums.
You can hear shades of acid house, drone indie, My Bloody Valentine textures in there all intertwined and taken somewhere else.
Farris Badwan’s voice has changed. There’s a flavour of Bowie in there, Bowie in Berlin when he was weird, dark and obtuse but put through a post punk sieve that gives him a hint of Bauhaus and especially the Psychedelic Furs- the way that Richard Butler would drawl over these pulsating grooves- that is so Horrors in 2011, but again dealt with an imagination and smarts that sees them tease their own distinctive stamp on the proceedings.
They play new single Still Life and it sounds great. Lots of people claim a Simple Minds influence for the track and the recorded version has that flavour but live it’s like tranced out take on Iggy’s Baby track from his iconic The Idiot album- the Berlin Iggy hanging with Bowie, getting dark and strange after burning out on rock n roll.
The Horrors are great live. This is a total trip. Faris is a great lanky frontman leaning into the crowd liking Joey Ramone from outer space and if the band have dropped that great early image for indie chic they still retain a certain cool and an originality.
Dark pop is just what the world needs. The Horrors are one of our best young bands.