July 23, 2011

Album Review: The Horrors' Skying

Just as we've witnessed here in America over the past year, the UK is also going through a bout of '90s nostalgia in their music scene, but it isn't in the same sense where indie rockers are copping the styles of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Smashing Pumpkins. There once was an era where bands such as Blur, Pulp, pre-OK Computer-era Radiohead and The Verve had an incredible American following, sold out large venues and even racked up chart-topping hits on the U.S. charts. Since that era has faded away and become watered down by vapid female songstresses and garage rock revivalists, Britain's alt-rock scene as a whole has had an arguably smaller level of impact here stateside over the course of the past decade. However, Skying, the third LP by transcendental gloom rockers, The Horrors, is a sign of life from across the pond that -- alongside fellow young contemporaries such as The Big Pink and The xx -- can usher in a return to Brit Pop's golden era.

Much like the transitional triumph of their sophomore effort, Primary Colours, Skying is built by evolutionary growth and maturity from the Southend band who was once pegged as an over-hyped act with a penchant for proto-punk imitation. If there was ever a criticism to be said about Primary Colours, it was that the influence by which their sound derived was monochromatic. Skying on the other hand is a multi-faceted approach that still trumps a healthy dose of lush shoegaze sophistication ("Changing the Rain," "I Can See Through You," "Oceans Burning,") but with a grander variation of well-executed melodic, mopey guitar bliss ("Endless Blue," "Dive In,") that partially defined an entire decade of alternative rock history.

At it's strongest, Skying includes sure-fire singles ("Still Life," "I Can See Through You," "Wild Eyed") that could match the accessible charm of yesteryear's most memorable hits had we still lived in a radio-driven music industry model. It's here where Faris Badwan is able to finally distinguish himself as a lead vocalist whose name is worth noting, as his softly caustic vocals counter-compliment the ebb-and-flow synths and euphoric wavelengths brought toward the light by the rest of The Horrors, and in a very important manner, put a face behind The Horrors' transforming identity. For a band who in the past few years have brought nothing but surprises to our ears, Skying is another strong assertion by The Horrors who remember all the right parts of the past in order to keep moving toward a luminous future.

The Horrors' Skying will be released August 9, 2011 on XL Records.

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