Seems so far behind
See yourself in the places you’ve been
Some other time in endless blue
Reflections look so good
You’re never certain of anything unless you go in
— Endless Blue, The Horrors
Did you spend the 1980s mooching around in an overlong trenchcoat with nobody understanding you or who you were going to be? Were you a little – or a lot – goth? Did you, basically, identify with Ally Sheedy’s reclusive Allison character in The Breakfast Club?
Well, if you mumbled ‘yes’ to any of these questions backcomb any hair you still have and crack out the blush with eyeliner ladies and gentlemen because Skying by The Horrors is the album for you. This synth-drenched set of songs harkens back to the alternative 1980s; when pasty-pale English bands like The Cure, New Order and Depeche Mode were conquering US college towns and soundtracking John Hughes movies.
Now, first track Changing The Rain may sound almost chirpy but – fear not! – this is as cheery as it gets as frontman Faris Badwan (the bastard lovechild of actors Nicolas Cage and Adrien Brody, remember?..) encourages listeners to “open up your eyes” amid a loop-laden, funky drummer beat, guitar squall noise. Actually, the following You Said and I Can See Through You both maintain some propulsion while sticking it to The Man before Endless Blue suddenly cranks up after a sedate early passage to spin Skying into post-punk territory.
From thereon in we’re in doom-laden drone-rock country. A doom laden country filled with endless “skies”, “rivers” and “oceans”. And it feels fine.
Lead single and mid-album peak Still Life neatly encapsulates The Horrors’ third outing. If you close, rather than open up, your eyes you can hear echoes of Echo & The Bunnymen and even Simple Minds. Don’t you forget about them.
Some music pundits claim songs like Still Life see The Horrors tilting — like scruffy mop-topped scarecrows — at the big league of arenas just like their gloomy 1980s stadium-filling alternative predecessors but it would be surprising if Skying connects with global mainstream audiences in a big way.
Unlike, say, crossover kings Kings Of Leon and Muse there’s still enough weirdness here to ensure this isn’t music for the masses or – if you’re being uncharitable – music for simple minds. Not least in the near 10-minute opuses of Moving Further Away and – lordy, even the title, never mind the sound wears its influence on its oversized trenchcoat sleeve – of closer Oceans Burning.
Most of the fare here isn’t going to appeal to Emilio Estevez’s Breakfast Club jock, Andrew.
This is a more insular album. One you lock yourself in your room to repeatedly listen to while you lay about doing nothing much more than contemplating nothing much because your family and friends don’t understand you. Even now.
earworms: Still Life, Changing The Rain, I Can See Through You