Monday, June 1, 2009

The Horrors Primary Colours: Back To The Future

The Horrors burst onto the British scene a few years ago with their brand of retro/garage/horror rock and roll that hearkens back to the 1960's organ and reverb sound. The endlessly hyping/slagging British press loved them; they were the darlings of the industry for their requisite 15 minutes, yet barely made a dent here in America. Their debut album, Strange House definitely traded on the goth/punk/horror aspect to grab listeners, yet rarely brought them back. Audiences it seemed, came for the horror but rarely stayed for the music.

Their new album, Primary Colours, presents a large step in the evolution of the band. Not quite a The Bends-type leap, but a significant ascension in terms of songwriting, production, and atmospherics. While retaining much of the goth/B movie appeal, the band has clearly spent their time developing the substance to match their style. Much of Primary Colours sounds as if it was produced in 1985 rather than 1965; where rhodes organs groaned and dominated the landscape, now shimmery 1980's synths push back into the light.

Opening with the superb synthetic freak out Mirror's Image, the groundwork is immediately laid. In addition to the requisite Nuggets touchstones like Question Mark and the Mysterions comes a fresh amalgamated stew of influences that begin to boil immediately. My Bloody Valentine's bendy notes show up in the wall of sound on the fantastic Three Decades - a postpunk/garage rock gem that bands like Crystal Stilts touch on without as much success. Ian Curtis pops up intermitantly. Who Can Say features a spoken word Phil Specter/60's Girl Group bridge and a bit of Flaming Lips and Stellastarr** to boot. Echo & the Bunnymen is all over Do You Remember, but title track Primary Colours is the greatest song that the Psychedelic Furs never wrote. Actually, most of the record sounds alot like the Psychedelic Furs. Which to me is not a bad thing - I love Psychedelic Furs, in particular their Talk Talk Talk album, but I digress.

Sometimes a band needs to reach back to move forward; The Horrors have done so with Primary Colours with startling success. This is one of the strongest releases so far this year. This time around audiences should come for the great songs, not any posturing. A superb follow up.

The Verdict: 4 stars out of 5. (Ed. note - this post has been updated).

Motorcycle License Plates From Around The World

This is a bit of an odd post following the epic treatise on the new MSP album. But I had to share this collection of motorcycle license plates from around the world. It is a massive, massive archive, featuring some beautiful typographic specimens. Wander around here.