The Horrors very nearly blew it.

Some of it wasn’t their fault. The NME (who else?) for instance stuck them on the cover of their magazine before they had even recorded a single note of music. An act which automatically cranked the hype machine up to 100 and made people hate them before they had actually heard them.

The Horrors didn’t help themselves though when they finally release some music. Their first album, 2007’s ‘Strange House’ was an under produced homage to sixties American garage rock if played by privileged teenagers (at least two of the band attended Rugby Public School) who listed to way too many Cramps records. It was preceded by a three-minute garage rock single called ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ that came accompanied by a video in which a woman gave birth to a Squid.

Then there was look, big hair, styled expensively with lots of lacquer, black clothes, mascara, very expensive looking leather jackets, skinny jeans (black obviously). All photos were taken in black and white on a white background. It was like the Psychedelic Furs had been shoved in a Delorean and transported to 2007. Everyone gave the Horrors six months at best, apart from the NME who one more than occasion proclaimed them to be the future of rock and roll. They weren’t quite that, in fact in 2007, they were a bit daft.

However, in 2009 the Horrors returned with ‘Sea Within a Sea’, an eight-minute blast of Krautrock brilliance that revealed a band that had totally transformed and had suddenly developed a knack for making songs with dizzingly fantastic climaxes. Gone was the garage rock sound that seemed obsessed with gothic rock, gone were the shrieking vocals and in from nowhere seemingly was a psychedelic sound that revealed a band who had suddenly discovered a trunk full of Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine and Can records. It was unexpectedly superb and they had ditched some of the black clothing too. In 2009, even the Horrors wouldn’t have recognised the Horrors from 2007, largely because they had ditched the ‘shocked Goth’ look although they did still wear expensive leather jackets.

A few months later, the bands second album, ‘Primary Colours’ landed and it was again superb but this time, thanks to ‘Sea Within a Sea’ people didn’t run away from it, they embraced it. It is full of guitars that swoon, organs that swirl, vocals that croon, drums that crash. There is barely a bad moment, barely a note out of place, it is awesome, and it is only when you’ve stopped pinching yourself do you realise that The Horrors were about to realise their hype.

Since 2009, the Horrors have been one of the most consistently brilliant bands around, they have now released five albums, four of which are excellent, and a bunch of EP’s. This ICA is compiled on the band’s releases between 2009 and 2017. If you are new to the Horrors and want somewhere to start then I recommend ‘Primary Colours, then ‘V’ and then sweep up all the bits in between.

But, until then, let’s start here

Side One

Sea Within A Sea (2009, XL Records, taken from ‘Primary Colours’)

Which as I said earlier is an eight minute Krautrock blast of brilliance that swoops and soars dramatically as wonky keyboards build in the background and as Faris Badwans vocals go all echo-ey and misty eyed it builds into a euphoric climax, courtesy of Geoff Barrow’s sublime production. I say this knowing that it will sound ridiculous but the effect of Barrow on this is almost as important as Weatherall was to ‘Loaded’. It’s bloody great, all of it, every single second of it.

Still Life  (2011, XL Records, taken from ‘Skying’)

The bands third album ‘Skying’ was released in 2011, and its first single was a track called ‘Still Life’. It is a song that is full of hazy dynamism that flirts with dance music and embraces the meatier side of shoegaze and echoes the Cure when they are at their most playful. The faint sprinkle of a brass section fires up before the amps explode with the guitars.

Hologram (2017, Total Wolf Records, 2017, taken from ‘V’)

‘Hologram’ according to the band stared out in life as a 25-minute ambient jam, so thank god that by the time the band finally got round to recording it they had recruited uber producer Paul Epworth, who talked the band down from that idea. Instead of 25 minutes of ambient jamming we now get a twisting stew of electronica, Beefheart style guitars and what sounds like an acid infused 303’s.

Change Your Mind (2014, XL Records, taken from ‘Luminous’)

‘Luminous’ is perhaps the Horrors record that I return to the least. It’s not as nearly perfect as ‘Primary Colours’ and not as joyous sounding as ‘V’ but when it’s good, it’s outstanding. ‘Change Your Mind’ for instance is the one of the stand-out tracks if you ask me. It has an excellent croon from Badwan which appears to be him dithering over doing something stupid (like make another Screaming Lord Sutch tribute album perhaps…?) and some pretty abstract music running through it.

Monica Gems (2011, XL Records, taken from ‘Skying’)

Side one ends with a no nonsense indie glam rock stomper, where Badwan tries to turn himself into Brett Anderson but actually ends up more like Simon Le Bon when he was brilliant (for those in the dark that was for about a week, when ‘Rio’ came out – but what a week it was). ‘Monica Gems’ is all decadent sighs and tuneful moaning and a simply wonderfully sounding guitar swirl.

Side Two

It’s A Good Life (2017, Total Wolf Records, taken from ‘V’)

‘It’s A Good Life’ would essentially be unremarkable if it were not for its subject, that being the late Peaches Geldof, whom Badwan dated. It sees Badwan completely unguarded, fragile and sounding slightly uneasy as he sings “She lay in the dark, but I don’t know who found her,” in a lyric that revisits her untimely and tragic death.

So Now You Know (2014, XL Records, taken from ‘Luminous’)

The band’s fourth album came three years after the third one, and it sees the band adopting a late nineties indie feel, all shimmering guitars, gentle breakbeats and Radiohead style electronica. It also sounds a bit like Simple Minds from their high school movie soundtrack phase, you know, back when they were good and not making pompous records about Steve Biko.

I See You (2014, XL Records, taken from ‘Luminous’)

‘I See You’ was the first taste we all got of the fourth Horrors records, and it sees them back in kind of familiar territory. ‘I See You; is a seven and a half minute dazzle of a track. The sort of track that would sound perfect if you listened to it at midnight by a lake as the full moon shimmered over it.

Who Can Say (2009, XL Records, taken from ‘Primary Colours’)

There is a brilliant moment on ‘Who Can Say’ where the Horrors morph into not one but two 60 girl groups, first, like so many bands before them, they steal the drum line from the RonettesBe My Baby’ and then Badwan does his best Shangri La’s impression with a spoken word section that tell us knowingly “And then I kissed her… with a kiss that could only mean goodbye” before the psychedelic guitars all kicks back in.

Something to Remember Me By (Total Wolf Records, 2017, taken from ‘V’)

The final track on the band’s fifth and so far last album ‘V’ is the marvellous ‘Something to Remember Me By’. This is a glittering seven-minute epic built around a synth that pulses like the best bits of ‘Technique’ era New Order that may just be the best thing that the Horrors have ever done.


JC adds…….

Consider this the first comment on this ICA.

I adore ‘Who Can Say’ – indeed, I’ve a copy on 7″ vinyl that was gifted to me by my pal Drew.  I bought ‘Primary Colours’ on CD but was never taken enough by it to become a dedicated follower of The Horrors and never pursued things afterwards.   Judging by the songs on this excellent ICA, the loss is all mine.  Cheers SWC.  Hugely appreciated.


I was kind of astonished that this lot haven’t ever featured in any of my own posts on this blog.  They did appear over at the old place as this, from 7 July 2011, testifies:-

I liked this a lot when it was released back in 2009. I still do:-

mp3 : The Horrors – Who Can Say

OK. So they don’t do anything us 40-somethings havent heard before, but they do it so well.

And if I was 30 years younger I wouldn’t be ashamed to think The Horrors were the saviours of rock’n’roll. And I’d be angry that they are another who don’t get the chart success they deserve.

The single was released in May 2009 just a week after the LP Primary Colours. The single was a flop and the album peaked at #25. Their new LP is out next week……Comrade Colin has said it’s a belter and he’s always a great judge when it comes to these things.

Here’s the b-side:-

mp3 : The Horrors – You Could Never Tell

** the mp3s with the original post back in 2011 were lifted from the CD album.  This time round, thanks to Drew gifting me this particular single when we hooked up last year, they’re from the vinyl.