The Horrors have always been a band who aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. Originally inspired by post-rock music and garage punk attire, the band released their debut album Strange House; however, with their second record, Primary Colours, the band shifted towards a more shoegaze influence and began expanding their sound to something broader, including more experimentation. Now with their third LP, Skying, The Horrors continue with the sound that we heard in Primary Colours and bring even more sounds and ideas to the table.
Right from the beginning, when you hear the tribal drums in “Changing the Rain” you can hear the strides that The Horrors have taken to make Skying a sonic experience, but it’s the second track, “You Said” which really shows the growth they have experienced. While it begins with the same creepy, haunted house-like keyboards that the band is known for, it’s not long before you can hear what they’re going for. Creating a U2 meets goth rock sound, The Horrors mix soaring choruses and soft verses with Faris Badwan’s deep vocals and their trademark horror sound (although it’s been toned down since the days of Strange House) and make a sound that is truly their own.
The Horrors’ music used to evoke mental pictures of dark closed hallways. However, the songs on Skying are more suited for a broader field, or an endless ocean. “I Can See Through You” is a prime example of what I’m talking about; the keyboards, which were once used by this band for the thrill of creating a creepy atmosphere, are now being used to drive songs, and even give it an *gasp* upbeat feeling. “Endless Blue,” which is easily my favorite song on the album, with its recurring bass line, horn section, and soothing keyboards, creates a serene landscape (until the guitar riffs come in) and Badwan’s vocals create a huge chorus, worthy of an arena.
The rest of Skying continues to experiment with different sounds, with the psychedelic guitars in “Dive In,” the horn section in “Still Life,” and the maracas and seagull sounds in “Moving Further Away.” The Horrors have made sure their newest album isn’t as introverted as its predecessors, and instead have added as much as they saw fit.
The main problem with this record is the production, which maintains a post-punk feel. Badwan’s voice is muddy, the guitars are at times inaudible, and there are moments when the common listener will have problems distinguishing the lower keyboard notes to that of the bass. This type of production would have gone over well in their debut LP, but Skying could have benefited from a much cleaner production job.
Skying is the sound of a band realizing that they don’t have to stick to the sounds that made them want to be in a band in the first place; it’s the sound of a band breaking away from their norm and discovering a much prettier sound of music. It’s kind of like when Brand New realized that they didn’t have to be a pop-punk band forever and left their old sound for a much more artistic direction. With Primary Colours The Horrors left their costumes and their nicknames behind and began their venture into another type of sound, and with Skying they have completed their transformation, and have left their goth post-punk days long behind.