The Horrors

Luminous

XL

May 02, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The Horrors first exploded onto the scene in 2006, a gang of cartoon goths playing a snarling brand of psycho-garage that sounded like nothing anyone had heard for a very long time. Nobody quite knew whether to take them seriously; nobody could have predicted that eight years on they'd have evolved into one of Britain's most beloved indie bands, along with fellow late-noughties alumni The Maccabees and Foals.

Fourth album Luminous looks set to consolidate the breakthrough success of its predecessor, 2011's dreamy, expansive Skying, and should cement the band's newfound festival-draw status. Those who enjoyed Skying, and in particular its synth-led standout track "Still Life," will find plenty to like here: Luminous takes the gorgeous euphoric slow burn of that songthat hopeful moment when sun breaks through storm clouds, distilled into soundas a starting point, and spins it out in various directions over its 10 tracks.

Luminous blossoms into being with opening track "Chasing Shadows," layers of drones and chirruping synths and tribal beats gradually coalescing into an undulating wave of sound before The Horrors hit us with the song propera blast of swirling guitar that sounds like Leisure-era Blur in a wind tunnel, interspersed with sparser verses that foreground frontman Faris Badwan's crystal-clear, airwhipped vocals.

It's a hell of a start to the record, immediately introducing the electronic dominance that continuous throughout; keys have always been an integral part of the band's sound, but on Luminous they push themselves even further into computerized effects and instruments. "Jealous Sun" has sticky, heavily-processed bass notes that buzz beneath drunkenly distorted organ-swoops; the jittery, frenetic synths on "In and Out of Sight" are balanced by the twin anchors of Badwan's vocals and the band's subtle rhythm section.

While these forays into uncharted territory are wonderful, it's when they stay closer to the "Still Life" template that Luminous really shines. Tracks like "So Now You Know" and album-closer "Sleepwalk" confirm The Horrors' talent for writing light-handed but heavy-impact slow burn anthems-you can see either of them going down fantastically at festivals this summer. Another triumph from a band whose evolution goes from strength to strength. (www.thehorrors.co.uk)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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