14 Sep 2014

The Horrors - Ten Best Tracks

The Horrors! Five Southend based garage goth revivalists that have made some of the most interesting and most innovative music of the past ten years. Over the course of their career, they've been exponents of Cramps-style garage punk, post-Loop shoegaze, and euphoric psychedelia of the electronic variety. Over four albums, Strange House, Primary Colours, Skying and Luminous, The Horrors have done the seemingly impossible, what so many bands have failed trying; they've mastered a tricky trademark sound, and moved on to another one. Where a normal band would find a genius sound like the oscillating shoegaze of Mirror's Image, and stick with it for a handful of albums. But no! The Horrors are an ever-evolving entity,  and that's what makes them the neo-psychedelic titans they are. These ten songs from across their career highlight just how versatile The Horrors are, and why they're one of the best bands in the world today.

10. I See You (2014)
The first offering from their fourth album Luminous announced the synth-driven ways of their new direction in style. Consisting of three parts, I See You is already a classic, despite only being aired for the first time in February; those three parts being the cosmic waves of an extensive intro, the ghostly snarl of the synth-driven verses, and ultimately the three minutes of the instrumental outro that escalates and escalates. Whilst Luminous is arguably the weakest Horrors album, I See You is one of the highlights that carries it from 'good' to 'excellent' whilst capturing the euphoria of the rest of the album.

9. Gloves (2006)
Oh so different from Luminous, if you're hearing Gloves for the first time, it's quite hard to believe that it's actually the actual Horrors. Coming out around the same time they appeared as The Black Tubes in the Boosh, Gloves sounds suitably Booshlike; a Jack The Ripper-style gothic thrash that encompasses a bit of a mini-murderer monologue. Gloves sees The Horrors at their most horrific, it's the best song on Strange House and it's a scintillating track that you'd just wish they'd maybe play live, once or twice.

8. Do You Remember (2009)
The perfect pop riff - it's no wonder Peace ripped this one right off of Josh Hayward; the Do You Remember riff is a pop highlight for The Horrors, as the track could easily have been lead single if Primary Colours was a more accessible record on the whole. It deals with the same themes as a lot of the record - namely Who Can Say? which it's almost a twin track with, because it precedes and sheds a much more optimistic light on the same breakup.

7. Moving Further Away (2011)
One from Skying now, this epic is the longest song in The Horrors entire discography. It's 10 seconds shy of nine minutes on record, but it can reach well over 10 in a live environment. Descending synthesisers and the rallying ghostly cry of "Moving further/moving further away" gives this song one of it's catchiest choruses, whilst the latter half of cathartic improvisation escalates it to a fantastic standard. Although the out and out verse-chorus-verse songs on Skying are the most mind-blowing, the escalating runaway psych of Moving Further Away (and Ocean's Burning) are just as essential to the album's prowess.

6. I Can See Through You (2011)
What leaps out at you with this number is the incredible sense of euphoria that comes with it. Ascending chord progression and a chorus you can't not sing along to make this one of the best pop songs in their entire discography. It's incredibly upbeat, and captures a real sense of bliss; the polar opposite of like, EVERYTHING that came pre-2011 for The Horrors. It's also an obvious pinpoint to see how The Horrors evolved from their garage guitar-driven psych to their synth-powered newer material.

5. Death At The Chapel (2006)
An early classic, Death At The Chapel is an electrifying 2 minute long surge of punk energy. Imagine for a second you've never heard any music, or noises, associated with the word 'goth'. Now, reimagine what something gothic is; terrifying serial killer screams, a church organ being battered, and a few odd noises in the background. I think The Horrors have a tendency to mull over this bit of their career. It was certainly, well, not very subtle, and from the outside looking in it's seems like The Horrors in 2006 were more about style than substance, but no! Death At The Chapel is such a strong song that it's obvious that's not the case.

4. Jealous Sun (2014)
From their latest album Luminous, Jealous Sun is a fantastic track. The warped MBV-style intro is a reprieve from the synths, as Josh Hayward lays pedal to the metal, whilst the rest of the band create some really intriguing, unique sounds. The verses show The Horrors at their coolest; strutting and nonchalant through the chaotic tones. 'Take your love/and take your tomorrows' is a line that springs to mind, sounding so cool rolling out of Faris' mouth. Jealous Sun is one of the finest songs released this year so far and it's just tragic that the quenching oasis of shoegazing electronica is so difficult to recreate live.

3. I Only Think Of You (2009)
This slow mournful ballad is one of the single most beautiful songs written in recent years, let alone by The Horrors. I guess it's kind of ambiguous, because you don't know the circumstances Faris is singing about, but boy is it beautiful. It probably means different things to different people, in the same way Desolation Row by Bob Dylan and Waltz #2 by Elliott Smith do, and whatever way you look at it, it's really beautiful. And the forlorn accompaniment wouldn't sound out of place as a Souvlaki outtake, I guess the whole thing is just a very perfect song that feels much shorter than 7 minutes.

2. Still Life (2011)
Still Life is the ultimate pop song. The intro is a wall of synthesised psychedelic sound breached by some calculated drumming and a life-giving bassline, whilst the verses feature some of the best lyrics Faris Badwan has written outside of Cat's Eyes. It has all the ingredients to be one of the greatest 4 minute pop-songs ever, and there's honestly nothing greater than it. Well, maybe one thing...

1. Sea Within A Sea (2009)
Possibly the greatest song of the past five or six years, Sea Within A Sea is something else. It pinpoints the exact second that The Horrors went from garange punk upstarts to transcendent neo-psychedelic innovators. Clocking in at 8 minutes, it revolves around a pulsing bassline, some dark lyrics, and an ascending synth that spirals on and on til it's out of control. It's almost a modern day Sister Ray, or a Trilogy (Sonic Youth) for the 21st century. It keeps on escalating with it's otherworldly synth and it's ever-present thudding bass. The Horrors have released many great songs, and four great albums, but the closer to the second is as good as it gets. From anybody. I honestly believe it could be the best thing released in my lifetime.


(written by calum cashin)