New release: The Horrors

The Horrors: Sea within a Sea (single)
XL Recordings (2009)

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It’s been three years since The Horrors first rose from the dead, and like every other over-hyped young band there was always a danger they were going to be one-note showmen. Especially when their debut album Strange House, didn’t quite match the intensity of their first single (and its film clip) Sheena is a Parasite.

But, suddenly they’re back, and while The Horrors could easily have retraced the romantic goth-punk schtick that garnered them so much attention to begin with, instead they’ve delivered a surprising new single. One that features production by the great Geoff Burrows of Portishead, I might add.

Currently available as a free download, Sea within a Sea moves out of the garage and into the age of Krautrock. A metronomic rhythm kicks things off while spooky guitars groan and shudder in the background. Stick-thin singer Faris has traded his throaty yelp for an emotionless croon, adding a sinister edge to the proceedings.

After a brief breakdown, at about the 4-minute mark, the darkness gives way to a New Order style danceathon. Major-key synths and uplifting arpeggios completely alter the mood and expose a side of The Horrors I would never have thought existed.

Burrows has put a whole lot of Portishead grey into The Horrors’ black (this could almost be an outtake from Third.) Reverb rains from the sky, everything feels stoned and at 8 minutes long, this isn’t the scuzz-rock we were expecting.

It’s not that the song doesn’t make you want to wear spider rings and powder your face white, because it does. Yet Sea Within a Sea suggests the band might not be a one trick pony after all. And the title of their new album, Primary Colours shows that they’re refusing to be painted into a dark corner. It’s engaging stuff, and if Sea Within a Sea is any example of what’s to come, I can’t wait for the new disc to hit shelves on May 4.

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