Album Review: The Horrors - Skying

Upon first listening to Skying, I sat in the passenger seat of my best friend's car hurtling down a highway somewhere and tried to catch my breath. Many listens later, I still haven't caught it. While it was released last summer, I was rather late to the party for The Horrors' third record, and have spent the subsequent past few months trying to make amends to my ears. If you've not yet had the pleasure, please read on and let me endeavor to twist your arm.

The Horrors had, now much to my horror, been off my radar totally, apart from name recognition. But as soon as I heard the opening, eerie strains of "Changing The Rain," I realized the extent of the egregiousness of my lack of fandom (check out the excellent Pete Fowler-directed video for the song below). Trace elements of Nine Inch Nails blend delectably with the denser nods to Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen on Skying, and the resulting combustion is a synthy, smoldering snare of visceral, beautiful English rock (think of them perhaps as slightly gothicly-inclined, ruffled-collar Edwardian 80s synth-heavy rawk). Singer Faris Badwan possesses a voice made for the stage, rich and rather theatric and prone to bouts of near aural perfection. O, what a voice.

The production is razor sharp and gorgeous, picking up every nuance in the expansive, detailed songs. "Still Life" is my favorite, though most of the songs are on Skying are a close second. It has a breathless anticipation to it, and it's the kind of song that can feel as though it's stopped time for a few minutes. Swelling washes of synth combined with Badwan at his dreamiest make for one hell of a song. "The moment that you want is coming if you give it time," he sings, amidst a noise that at times seems almost John Hughes-ian (in the best way, of course). It's not an exaggeration when I tell you that this song gives me chills. "Monica Gems" is another favorite, all angular, jerky guitars and an overall snarl to the sound balanced by the smoothness of Badwan's velvet voice. It's impeccably messy and it's impossibly marvelous. One of the songs that most sounds influenced by Echo & The Bunnymen is the excellent (and another favorite) "Dive In," all smoky and slowly building to great, great heights.       

I was awed months ago and I'm still in awe of this record. It's almost as though I hear it for the first time each and every time I listen to it. If you've glossed over the above praise, just buy the dang record and be done with it.


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