The Horrors were a band that first appeared on the music scene in 2007 like a gothic cartoon brought to life. Ridiculed in some quarters for their solemn appearance and Bauhaus/Birthday Party’isms they seemed consigned to the shadowy perimeters of popular culture, flavour of the month at best. Somehow though they clawed their way onwards and upwards through Primary Colours and Skying, bursting through the clouds with the positively interstellar love-in that is Luminous.
It is a victory against dismissive pigeonholing that the band have been able to evolve and refine their sound over such a relatively short period of time. Luminous is like a shiny, ergonomic sonic space shuttle, such is the level of polish and sculpting they’ve applied to their sound. Gone are the clumsy garage punk flailings and some of the filler material of recent albums that, though they were very good, prevented them from becoming exceptional. Now they’ve got as close as they’ll probably get to a fully realised aural manifesto.
Singer Faris Badwan has for the most part settled into a higher-register voice, adding to the ethereal space-pop vibe and on a song like ‘In And Out of Sight’ it helps them hit a hypnotic momentum that surges on and on quite magically. Moroder-esque synth chatter and bubbling bass-lines are frequent backdrops to a dreamy yet still effortlessly melodic art pop while shoegaze is still a go-to player in the woozy guitars of ‘Jealous Sun’. Elsewhere they all but namecheck Echo and the Bunnymen and Primal Scream in the beatific album peak ‘I See You’ and mid-period Radiohead on the warm glow of ‘Change Your Mind’.
Luminous is an album that possesses a hyper-colour confidence that makes it feel futuristic and optimistic and it has the makings of a landmark English record in the way it references many of the great bands of the last thirty years without a whiff of nostalgia. This is modern, ambitious, widescreen pop music par excellence.
this review was first published on FasterLouder