The Horrors’ second album is definitely different. Why? Well, take your pick from the influence of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow on production duties, the various (ok, one) inter-band instrument swapping, or maybe the weight of hair lifted from their slim shoulders. But for whatever reason Primary Colours is monumentally, surprisingly different.
Really. Honestly. Too often things are held up as ‘brave new directions’ where they are little more than ‘fucking cowardly, identical turds; albeit polished’, so to find a band setting sail into second-album-waters on a tack which would have caused Christopher Columbus to go, “you absolutely sure about this?”, is pretty impressive.
Particularly when said band have been written off, derided, labelled all-trousers-no-mouth, and then, best of all, dropped. Yes, Primary Colours is a quite shocking riposte.
In a good, nay, great way. Because they’re out of the garage. There’s no dicking around with sub-two minute blasts of noise designed solely to provoke and annoy. There are songs on here. Actual, complex, textured, songs.
It begins with Mirror Image, announcing itself with the kind of nimble, slowly approaching bassline which really wants to be adored, and from there, the scene is set. A scene of shoegazey plateaus, of krautrock influenced soundscapes. It’s a scene a trillion miles away from the one they were huffingly accused last time around, in some kind of indie Nuremberg, of being key players in. A scene where music played second fiddle to other considerations.
Instead of 12 variations of Cramps-esque surfabilly rock, we’ve got Who Can Say, effortlessly recalling Love Will Tear Us Apart, with desperate arcs of euphoric synths and tortuously factual vocals; I Can Only Think Of You – precisely like Jason Pierce sentencing 30,000 pipers to death into a slowly depressing air lock – and the rolling, swirling eight minute electronic blast of album closer Sea Within A Sea.
It’s comparisons like that which really bring home how far they’ve come. Eight minutes? Eight minutes? The only previous occasion ‘The Horrors’ and ‘eight minutes’ appeared in the same sentence is when discussing the average time taken for bands to get from home to central Shoreditch. And as for the musical paralleling, well, that’s even less likely.
It’s almost the hype-cycle in reverse. Set to suck, rather than blow. There was nothing to suggest that The Horrors had this in them, but the manner and the fashion in which it exceeds expectations serve to amplify just how good it is. If there’s a more surprising album this year, we’ll be, er, um, surprised; Primary Colours is one of the best albums of 2009 so far.