It almost seems impossible that who were once a quintet of spidery-legged mop heads have emerged as indie music forerunners. Their ghoulish music from their self-titled debut almost has to be from an entirely different band. They were a bit of a laugh, like a harmless caricature or cartoon. Somehow in the span of less than a decade with their fourth album, Luminous, London band the Horrors have moulded their own way as fine musicians – a direction mimicked by others, and hardly ever to the same effect.
Luminous is as, well, luminous as it suggests. The bright sound is hypnotic and welcoming, an entirely different direction of the screeches and shadows of their 2007 debut, Strange House. The hair has lost volume and their clothes now seem to be the right size. The Horrors have grown up and patted that last bit of soil on the grave that holds the memory of what they were.
The fact that the band have had a consistent line-up since their debut is astounding when taking into consideration how much they have sharply turned directions with their sound. Luminous is at times even sublime and heavy. Although, it did feel like the album that would never arrive. The band scrapped their initial try, giving up the September 2013 release date.
Their biggest critics will say that they have always wore their influences so openly, but it is difficult to fault them when their choices are so good. The sound is unique their own (although for the ease of things, we’ll call it neo-psychedelic for genre’s sake). They’ve covered the music part so well, it seems only a matter of time before the band will come along as well lyrically.
These sharp turns in direction seem to be what fans now look forward to most. The Horrors are hardly boring, but Luminous seems to be in the same realm of 2011’s Skying. This just may be the sound that they really will hone into become distinctly theirs.
The opening of ‘Jealous Sun’ has whining guitars that are bending enough to make My Bloody Valentine want to re-think their last album, but ‘I See You’ is clearly the jewel of the entire venture. The dizzying textures of synth are reminiscent of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’. Both songs have use the hypnotic technique of layering and repeating the vocals. Badwan’s voice, it must be noted, have vastly improved over the course of these four albums. His baritone has developed into a range of soft to grandiose.
It is that danceability that proves the Horrors are still ahead of the pack. They remain unique in their tastes while approaching a more general public pleasing sound.
Luminous, while it shines bright in parts, feels more of the same. Not the finest moment in the band’s flourishing career, but it feels like the perfect stepping-stone in the right direction. The future still feels full of promise.