When a band you’ve been a huge fan of for years comes back with new music, it gives you some form of hope or just sheer joy. Hearing the brand new song by The Horrors this morning was what I needed, and going by reactions of others- it’s what they needed to.
From their rowdy debut Strange House to 2021’s single, Lout- The Horrors are a prime example of a band that are unafraid to experiment with sounds and to just always give us something different. Many have cited that Lout has a strong Industrial sound. It is such a great song- it’s brutal, it’s loud and it is different. Compare it to whatever you want if you must, but there’s no denying just how effortlessly brilliant it is. I adore how The Horrors just hit us with something different every single time- that’s what you should want from a band. Lout punches you right in the gut. It’s like a hammer going at your skull over and over, and all you can do is soak up the beatings of the monumental anthem. I’m obsessed. I’m hooked. As always.
If they do a music video to this song, I’d imagine it would be something really off the wall to fit the song. Listening to Lout is giving me the same feeling as I got from when I heard Sea Within A Sea for the first time. That electrifying shock through the body of hearing something so new and so different.
Lout is a prime example of a song that HAS to be played so loud it leaves you begging the band for forgiveness. It’s a masterpiece. Call it as the best song of the year. Done. Nothing else matters now. If they bring a new record out, we can call that as the record of the year too.
Of all the things I should be doing and shouldn’t be doing, I just do not know where this fits in. Nothing or no one ever really fits in, if you think about it. But, then again if you keep thinking about it you will riddle yourself with a headache and probably a heartache to match. They usually go together, they fit. Certain things do. Certain things just go well together. In your head, you think YOU and that person you cannot stop thinking about just fit. You know the one. Or maybe, it is things like whiskey and coke that just fit so well together. Or maybe it’s THOSE shoes with THAT pair of jeans. Certain things just fit so perfectly. I have no idea where I am going with this, but I know I’m in the midst of a “post-London emotional hangover.” I spent the week in London, and whilst there I saw The Horrors support Florence. I thought I was okay with life afterwards, I really thought I had got over just how perfect it was. Truth be told? I’m not.
So here’s the thing, since very early 2006 I fell instantly in love with a band. A band that dressed how I wish people still dressed. They had big hair and a loud sound. I felt like I had found the band I’d sell my soul to see live. Every tour that they announced from 2006 onwards, something or someone just got in the way. “I can’t afford a ticket.” Or “I don’t like them.” There were other reasons too, but..last Saturday the excuses ended. My wait was over. Most that were at Ally Pally were just dying to see Florence. I’ve seen her 5 times, and as much as I love her..it was ALL about The Horrors for me. All the wine and whiskey I had beforehand couldn’t calm me. It made it worse. However, as soon as they walked on stage I felt as if something took over. I was in some kind of trance. I felt like I was falling into a deep sleep. I sang every single word as if my life depended on it. I swayed like Rhys does with his bass. My eyes shut and I saw my own piece of Heaven in my mind. I opened my eyes and I could see the 5 musicians that just changed everything for me. Everything for that half an hour just seemed so perfect. I didn’t take any notice of the 10,000 people who were in the room. I didn’t care that none of them were singing and swaying like I was. I was in my own little world watching my favourite band. I want to feel like that forever.
So what am I getting at with this? I have no idea. I really don’t. Do I want you to think about how long you’ve waited to see your favourite band live and what it does to you? Has this ever happened to you, and you never recovered from it? I’ve not recovered from this. I never ever will. I don’t think I want to.
When you are face to face with a band that means the world to you, you feel like you are of worth. It is a bloody struggle to feel like you matter. I guess I’m at that point now where I know what and who matters to me. But, I will never know what or who I matter to. That will never happen, I will never know. With music, I’ve always found a home and a purpose. A solid ground, something to just call mine. Music will give you what nothing or no one else ever can. How do I know? Well, I found this out properly last Saturday night. Even if nothing ever goes my way again, I can keep with me that I’ve seen the band that got me through Uni and a bunch of other stuff live. I waited it out, and I didn’t give up hope that I’d see them.
The way they all played just blew me away. They didn’t have to say anything to the crowd. I didn’t want them to, I just wanted to hear the songs that I’ve been waiting years to hear. There was nothing from Strange House, and although it hurts that I’ll never hear it live- what I did witness live just made me so fucking glad to be breathing. Mirror’s Image is a song that I seem to associate with those I am fond with, but not to the point where it ruins the song. Far from it. If anything, it just helps with letting the person go and stops me from beating myself up from not saying anything to them. Forever biting my tongue, I don’t know how I have one anymore. Watching this song live meant the world to me. Oh, and Sea Within A Sea live is the most euphoric thing I have ever and may ever see live. Every part of me just came alive.
This is why I love live music. I was singing, swaying and crying. The tears were of just sheer joy. I know exactly where I would be if I didn’t have this feeling keeping me going. I moved back to England recently to finally sort myself out. I have my good days, I have my bad days. But I learnt something from The Horrors the other night. I learnt that, you just have to wait it out. If you want something, you’ve got to wait for it. Until it is time. 10th March 2012 was my time to see them..and from now on? Well, I have no idea but I’m sought comfort in music. Maybe I’ll find the answers. Maybe I won’t. I don’t know, and because I don’t know- it will keep me going.
I’ve written about Primary Colours and Skying, but never Strange House. Obviously because I started this (whatever it is) just under a year after The Horrors debut LP came out. I remember the day I bought it so clearly. There are a few records I am like this with.
The album came out in March 2007, and I was a few months into my first year of University. I loved The Horrors since the start. That aggressive, post-punk, garage rock feel to their music drew me in instantly. I fell in love with them when I first heard Sheena Is A Parasite. The video also blew me away. I just loved how different everything sounded. I mean, sure you could hear what influenced them0 but they were (and still are) NOTHING like what was around. I’ve always loved the Ramones, The Jesus And Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine from an extremely young age (my uncle’s influence on me) and to hear a band that were my age making music like this; it was just a great comfort. Knowing I wasn’t the only one of my age listening to this stuff. It made me connect with The Horrors even more.
It does make me sad that they no longer play anything off this record anymorem but I do understand why they don’t in a way. However, I would’ve loved to have seen them live when they were getting started. I think Faris covering an audience in black paint is my generation’s version of Iggy and the peanut butter incident. Since 2006 I have been trying (and failing) to see The Horrors live. People bailing out was the main issue, as well as me being broke. HOWEVER, they’re supporting Florence on her UK tour in a few weeks. I just hope their music isn’t lost on the crowd. And yes, I am going. I think I am more excited about seeing The Horrors than Florence- I’ll have seen her 5 times, but it means more to see The Horrors in a way because I’ve waited so long.
Faris’ vocals on Strange House were quite “in your face” and would probably cause a vulnerable person’s ears to bleed. Personally, I loved them. I love his voice. I find it to be highly distinctive; he makes you want to listen and treasure every single word he is singing. Whether it’s the shouting on Sheena or the calming sounds of I Only Think Of You (second record.) He just lures you in.
I’ll always hold this record very dear to me, as it reminds me of my first year of Universirty. I remember skipping a lecture that Monday of the release just to go buy Strange House. Am I proud of doing this? Of course I am. It does annoy me a lot that people are only just now getting themselves familiar with The Horrors. Yes, Still Life is a good song- but you need..you HAVE to go back to the very very start of The Horrors to really appreciate what they do now, and see how they’ve gornw. Many critics and the general public at the time of Strange House, did shun them because of how they dressed and how big their hair was. It wasn’t an image it was just how they were. However, how they dressed really did fit in with the sound and feel of Strange House. I loved the whole look they had going on. If I was male, I probably would’ve copied the look to be honest.
As a debut record, you really cannot find any fault with Strange House. If you can, then you’re not a fan of The Horrors. There is more to them than just wearing black clothes. There is more to them than Still Life. This band are one of the best band’s that the UK has produced in a hell of a long time. What I love about this debut record is, althought it does posses a Garage Rock feel to it- it also has essence of Punk scattered through. You know full well that they did what they wanted with this record (and also with Primary Colours and Skying.) They aren’t a band that should be told what to do, free creative regin is a must for bands like The Horrors. Bands that stay true to their art. There aren’t many bands around now that do this. You can find it easily in the music of The Kills, Warpaint, The XX, Zola Jesus and a few others. I love Strange House because it is a frightening record. Faris’ screaming will scare you bloody shitless- that’s perfect. That is why I fell in love with them when I first heard them.
The record opens with a bloody marvellous cover of Screaming Lord Sutch’s Jack The Ripper. If you’re not familiar with him, get familiar with him. If you love music that is on a different level of weird and will cause mini heart attacks with how insane it is- listen to Screaming Lord Sutch. My personal favourite track off the record is She Is The New Thing. That will always be one of my favourite tracks by the band. I also adore Little Victories. I think that was the song I first played over and over when I got the record. Excellent Choice (either version) is just stunning. The monologue is greeted with Faris yelling in the background. It works, it works so bloody well. I respect that they never play any of these songs live now; but I can’t help but want to witness everyone going mental to Sheena Is A Parasite or Death At The Chapel.
I still find myself watching clips of the band from 2006/2007/2008 playing material from Strange House and just being in awe of every movement from each band member. The way Joe beats the shit out the drums, the way Tom just looks so fucking cool playing the bass oblivious to the chaos on stage and in the crowd. The way Josh throws himself about playing the guitar and making the most incredible sounds. The way Rhys thrashes the organ and moves like a madman. The way Faris screams every single word and stalks the stage like a lucid panther, picking up scattered objects from the crowd and on stage. It is all so fucking wonderful, and it is music like this that makes my heart race and mind explode.
I mean tracks like Gil Sleeping, A Train Roars, Thunderclaps- they are eerie tracks that will posses your mind. The way Gloves deals with an obsession of collecting Gloves. Count In Fives deals with Faris’ habit of counting in fives when he was younger- it is all so fucking magnificent and brutal. You may be quick to judge the songs as screaming bollocks, and for that I wish to lamp you one. Read the lyrics, and you will see just how out of this world The Horrors were then, and still are now.
Most of you may claim Skying as THE ultimate album by The Horrors, and the band probably do too. But, it was Strange House that made me give my heart and mind and ears over to The Horrors. It has fuzzy and psychotic sounds for those who enjoy the weird and dark side of life. It’s the perfect debut record, and when I first heard it I just knew that anything and everything The Horrors would come to do would amaze me and be a huge part of my life. I cannot imagine my life without The Horrors and my record collection without their music. They are a band that you can be proud to be a fan of, and they leave you want more every single time. Just waiting for a new sound that blow your mind and get you falling in love with them all over again.
When I left for Uni in 2006, my auntie and uncle gave me a I AM A HORROR t-shirt and a badge of The Horrors as a leaving present. I still wear them with such pride.
Everything I felt about music changed just before the summer of 2006. I heard something that just reignited my love for music that is perceived as dark and a bit creepy. I’ve always loved bands such as Bauhaus, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Count Five. I never thought I’d find a band to give me the same feeling those acts did. I never thought it would exist again. At the time it was so groundbreaking, so there was really no reason it could ever happen again. Or could it?
What drew me to The Horrors was not the same reason most were. I did not care for how they dressed or how big their hair was. I was drawn into Joshua’s guitar playing. How could someone so you make a sound like this? How could someone who was practically my age play like one of the greats? I will never know, but I will ALWAYS be in utter awe of it. Tom, Rhys, Joe and Faris are ALL extremely talented guys, you cannot deny that at all. In time, I will probably have written about each member. Trust me, it’s going to happen. With Josh, it’s something else. When you see them all play on stage you can see that they feel exactly what they are playing. Faris doesn’t move like a man possessed on stage anymore, instead he stalks the stage like a panther. He’s so majestic with his moves.
Then you have Josh. He moves around in the completely opposite way Faris does. He loses himself not just in mind; but in body. He flails around so wonderfully. You are transfixed on the way he holds the guitar and how his long hair sticks to his face and in his eyes. Anyone else would probably fall over and not be able to play. Josh, however, is one of a kind.
Josh is EASILY the most exciting guitar player around. He has a degree in Physics, and you can tell the way he plays the guitar comes from more than a musical place. There is so much science going on in the way he plays. Just look at his pedal board. It is fucking CRAZY. His approach to playing is unlike anything I have ever heard before, and I listen to some weird and wonderful music.
The way Josh plays sends you into a whirlwind. It throws you off completely. It isn’t safe for me to go for a walk and listen to The Horrors because I just lose myself and fall into a trance.
The guitar on Mirror’s Image sounds like a train approaching. When Josh plays guitar, it doesn’t sound like he’s playing the guitar. He turns it into something else, something that changes in every single song. Although he has a different sound on every single song, Josh still maintains an eerie feel to it; something which cements what is The Horrors sound.
What fascinated me about Primary Colours was that Josh BUILT the pedals himself, he actually made them. It’s fucking mind-blowing. He’s the mad scientist of music. If you listen to a lot of bands now, yes some are quite good but The Horrors have something else. That something else that they posses comes from their approach to the music.
The first thing I bought to do with The Horrors was their EP in 2006. I remember skipping my uni lecture (first year doesn’t count) and going to buy this EP. I sat in my room and played it extremely loud. I knew nobody was in. I played it and I just lost myself in what I was hearing. I did exactly the same thing when Strange House was released, skipped a lecture just to go buy a record. Personally, I feel it was worth it.
Their sound on Strange House is what I suppose you would call Garage Rock. I hate giving bands a label, I can’t do it. It’s just wrong, but it does give off a Garage Rock vibe. It smacks you in the face; the songs are short and fucking brutal.
Move forward to 2009 and we are again blessed with a new record. Primary Colours was immediately declared as that year’s best album. I agree, fully. The songs were longer, the sound was less aggressive but it still had that raw edge. It still had a sound that no other could do apart from The Horrors. The guitar still sounded vicious yet it sent you off into a trance. What I’m trying to say is, Josh’s guitar skills just hypnotise you. That’s what he does, you listen to him and you cannot do anything else. You become so enthralled in what he is doing. You watch him sway whilst he is on stage or you just drift off into another world as you lay on your bed listening to the guitar dominate your mind.
The fact that Josh built his own pedals caused The Horrors to create a sound that nobody had ever heard before. The production was big, grand and full (think Joe Meek and Phil Spector.) All three of their albums have an indescribable sound. Recently Josh stated that it was Sonic Youth that inspired him to pick up a guitar, I can only hope that the generation below me listen to The Horrors and feel inspired to pick up an instrument and create something that hasn’t been heard before. There’s so much reverb and distortion in his guitar. An obsession with a feedback sound is evident, and with a lot of guitarists it can sound quite desperate. With Josh it sounds so clear and brutal. Oh and a wee bit fuzzy.
It’s only right that I mention this year’s release, Skying. Skying was produced by the band, and what is so amazing about this is that you can feel the freedom in the album. They haven’t made an album that you or I are proud of- they have made an album that they, as a band, are proud of. As much as I adore the brutal sounds on Strange House, the sound that they have created on Skying is stunning. It’s just a shame that people who know fuck all keep comparing it to others. It does NOT sound like Simple Minds at all, the fuck you on? Skying is masterpiece, a work of art. Just like all their records. If they can create an album like this, 3 albums into their career, then it is fairly obvious that The Horrors are a bad will be the ones to constantly evolve in ways you could never imagine with every record. Josh’s guitar sound on this record is not as fuzzy as it was on Primary Colours, on Skying it has a more delicate feel; not as intense. It still grabs you in ways you never thought a record could, but not in an aggressive manner.
John Peel once said, “I just want to hear something I haven’t heard before.” Something tells me that if he was still alive, The Horrors would probably be his favourite band around.