ALBUM REVIEW: The Horrors | Luminous

Rating8square-600-4The 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.

Chris Familton

this review was first published on FasterLouder

 

NEW MUSIC: The Horrors | I See You

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The Horrors have announced their new LP Luminous will be released on May 5th. Apparently they were determined to make an album that was brighter, more positive and more electronic and they’ve certainly achieved that based on I See You, the first taste of the new album.

Tracklisting:
Chasing Shadows
First Day Of Spring
So Now You Know
In and Out Of Sight
Jealous Sun
Falling Star
I See You
Change Your Mind
Mine and Yours
Sleepwalk

FEATURE: Why So Glum?

by Chris Familton

In both popular and fringe culture the dark has been rising steadily over the last decade and it is showing no signs of retreating into the shadows. Fascination with death, ghosts, the dark arts and melancholy have always been important signifiers of all art forms yet this current trend in Hollywood movies and in many musical genres is tantamount to a gothic renaissance.

At the mass consumption end of the scale much credit must go to films like the Harry Potter and Twilight series for kicking off the current trend. They set the scene for the current popularity of TV shows like True Blood, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story with networks embracing death, blood, evil spirits and serial killers. If the theory of art reflecting society is anything to go by then the financial turbulence of recent years is surely a factor in the current popularity of these shows.

Musically the heyday, if not the origins of goth can be traced to the early 80s and bands like The Cure, Bauhaus, The Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division. Many of the groups dismissed the goth tag, much preferring to be called post punk as most emerged from the late 70s UK punk scene yet their music shared tendencies of claustrophobia, rumination on the dark and morbid side of the human psyche and with visual images that embraced very little colour there was generally a look to go with it. The sound those bands created has filtered through to acts of today, some thirty years later, whether it be the darkwave electronica of Light Asylum, Zola Jesus and Austra or guitar bands like Ceremony, The Horrors and Interpol. Most interestingly the cross pollination with synth pop, shoegaze and and dream pop has allowed new versions of the goth/post punk to emerge.

Every music scene is based on action and reaction so in this age of pop music where everything is increasingly saturated in synthetic gloss it is only natural that those with a disdain for manufactured happiness and more inclined to embrace melancholy will find music like this to suit their tastes.  Of course how we label any type of music and how we group its fans is just a symptom of how we like to categorise things but the fascinating thing about the current taste for the dark side is the extent to which it has permeated the mainstream and doesn’t look like giving up the ghost anytime soon.

this piece was first published in Drum Media

LIVE REVIEW: The Horrors @ Metro Theatre, Sydney (03/02/12)

The Horrors | photo by Chris Familton

written by Chris Familton

Jack Ladder was in solo mode in the early opening slot and he showed that the songs from last year’s excellent Hurtsville LP can work just as well when stripped back to that rich, melodramatic voice and a fantastic effect laden guitar sound. He only managed to play a handful of songs before he was ushered stage right yet he impressed many of the arriving punters.

Perth’s Allbrook/Avery were no doubt unknown to the vast majority of the audience. Including a couple of Tame Impala members they take a different approach to retro-heavy music by dialing in 50s romantic pop and 70s glam rock with invigorating and often surprising results. It sounded like it was hanging together by a thread, delightfully so, and the interplay between the dual frontmen has a unique quirkiness that demands further exploration.

The Horrors have always been about image as much as music and from the lights to the hair, the clothes and the poses they are a complete package. So much so that they irk many people with their unabashed devotion to ‘rock n roll’ as an art concept. Opening with Endless Blue they fell victim to a still forming sound mix but that was quickly resolved and the Metro was treated to a wall of snapping drums and refreshingly loud bass guitar that underpinned the waves of guitar and synths.

Tracks from Skying and Primary Colours made up the setlist showing they have all but discarded their sub-Birthday Party, garage rock origins for brighter, more psychedelic pastures. The Horrors proudly wear their influences on their collars with Suede, Bowie, MBV, Psychedelic Furs and Bauhaus all emerging from the sonic mist, combining to best effect on the surging I Can See Through You. A majestic rendering of Still Life showed they are a band that uses synths as effectively as they do guitars while the epic krautrock pulse of Sea Within A Sea was a definitive highlight. Faris Badwan barely communicated with the crowd outside of his singing yet it mattered little. The Horrors are a band that has created themselves in the image and sounds of their heroes and they do it exceptionally well. The proof of a band’s integrity and claims of greatness are always tested on stage and The Horrors passed with flying colours.

this review was first published in The Drum Media

NEWS: Laneway Festival sideshows announced…

They’ve been coming thick and fast all morning so here is a summary of the Laneway sideshows. As per usual there are the horrible clashes like The Horrors and Girls playing the same night as well as Yuck/EMA, M83 and Austra all on the same night in Sydney…

GIRLS

  • Thursday, 2nd February 2012 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
  • Wednesday, 8th February 2012 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

THE HORRORS

  • Thursday, 2nd February 2012 – Metro Theatre, Sydney

YUCK + EMA

  • Friday February 3rd – East Brunswick Club, Melbourne
  • Thursday February 9th – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney

ANNA CALVI

  • Friday 3rd February 2012 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
  • Wednesday 8th February 2012 – Metro Theatre (18+), Sydney

THE DRUMS + CULTS (CO-HEADLINE SHOWS)

  • Friday 3rd February 2012 – Palace Theatre, Melbourne (18+)
  • Wednesday 8th February 2012 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney (All Ages)

FEIST

  • Wednesday 1st February 2012 – Palais Theatre, Melbourne (All Ages)
  • Tuesday 7th February 2012 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney (All Ages)
  • Thursday 9th February – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (All Ages)

GLASSER

  • Wednesday 1st February 2012 – The Toff in Town, Melbourne (18+)
  • Wednesday 8th February 2012 – The Standard, Sydney (18+)
GIVERS/PORTUGAL.THE MAN/GUINEAFOWL
  • Tuesday 7th February 2012 – Metro Theatre, Sydney

SBTRKT (LIVE)

  • Friday 3rd February 2012 – Metro Theatre, Sydney

M83

  • Friday 3rd February 2012 – The Prince Bandroom, Melbourne (18+)
  • Thursday 9th February 2012 – Metro Theatre, Sydney (18+)

TWIN SHADOW

  • Wednesday 1st February 2012 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
  • Monday 6th February 2012 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney (18+)

WU LYF

  • Thursday 2nd February 2012 – Prince Bandroom, Melbourne (18+)
  • Monday 6th February 2012 – Metro Theatre, Sydney (18+)

ACTIVE CHILD

  • Sunday 29 January – Oxford Art Factory – Sydney
  • Wednesday 8 February – East Brunswick Club – Melbourne

AUSTRA

  • Thursday 2 February – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
  • Thursday 9 February – The Basement, Sydney

NEWS: Laneway Festival 2012 line-up announced…

Laneway today announced its line-up for the 2012 event and it’s a damn impressive one. Sure there are the buzz bands of the moment like Washed Out and Active Child who don’t don’t really measure up to the hype tossed their way but the list of bands promises to be one of the best that Laneway has hosted to date. Note to organisers – make sure Girls are playing at sunset, The Horrors are playing after dark and M83 finish the night on the main stage.

In order of Doubtful Sounds excellence here is the line-up for Australia:

  • Girls
  • The Horrors
  • M83
  • Austra
  • Anna Calvi
  • EMA
  • Feist (except Adelaide^)
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • Pajama Club
  • Yuck
  • Total Control
  • Twin Shadow
  • SBTRKT (live)
  • Cults
  • DZ Deathrays
  • Active Child
  • Bullion
  • Chairlift (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne only)
  • The Drums
  • Geoffry O’Connor
  • Givers (Sydney, Melbourne only)
  • Glasser
  • Husky (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne only)
  • John Talabot
  • Jonti
  • Laura Marling
  • Oneman
  • The Panics
  • Portugal The Man
  • Toro Y Moi
  • Washed Out
  • Wu Lyf

^Feist will be playing a one-off show in Adelaide at the Thebarton Theatre

New Zealand line-up:

  • Feist
  • The Horrors
  • Gotye
  • Laura Marling
  • Pajama Club
  • SBTRKT(Live)
  • Shayne P Carter
  • Washed Out
  • Twin Shadow
  • Anna Calvi
  • M83
  • Cults
  • Girls
  • EMA
  • Yuck
  • Toro Y Moi
  • Wu Lyf
  • Glasser
  • Opossom
  • The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
  • Austra
  • Transistors

Tickets are on sale October 19th.

Brisbane – Saturday 28th January , Alexandria Street, Fortitude Valley
Auckland – Monday 30th January , Silo Park, Beaumont Street
Melbourne – Saturday 4th February, Footscray Community Arts Centre
Sydney – Sunday 5th February, Sydney College Of The Arts
Adelaide – Friday 10th February, Fowler’s Live
Perth – Saturday 11th February, Perth Cultural Centre
Singapore – Sunday 12th February, Fort Canning

ON TOUR: HEALTH, CALEXICO, JANE’S ADDICTION, DEAD WEATHER, HORRORS and more…

tour ds

The summer tours are coming thick and fast now and alongside festival appearances, most acts are fitting in sideshows across Australia…

JANE’S ADDICTION

Tuesday 23 February – Sydney, Enmore Theatre [Licensed All Ages]

Wednesday 24 February – Melbourne, The Palace [18+]

HEALTH

Wednesday February 24 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Thursday February 25– The Step Inn, Brisbane

Friday February 26 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Saturday February 27– Perth Festival

CALEXICO

Friday, 26 February 2010 – Perth Festival Music Box Perth WA

Sunday, 28 February 2010 – Hotel Great Northern Byron Bay NSW

Tuesday, 2 March 2010 – HI-FI Brisbane QLD

Wednesday, 3 March 2010 – Metro Theatre Sydney NSW

Friday, 5 March 2010 – WOMADelaide Adelaide SA

Saturday, 6 March 2010 – WOMADelaide Adelaide SA

Sunday, 7 March 2010 – Golden Plains Festival VIC

Monday, 8 March 2010 – Prince Bandroom, Melbourne VIC

Tuesday, 9 March 2010 -Thornbury Theatre Melbourne VIC

THE HORRORS

Wednesday 20 January – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Wednesday 27 January – Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Saturday 30 January – Amplifier Bar, Perth

DEAD WEATHER

Friday 19 March – Forum Theatre, Melbourne

Tuesday 23 March – The Tivoli, Brisbane

Friday 26 March – Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Monday 29 March – Metro City, Perth

PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART

Wednesday 17 February – East Brunswick Club, Melbourne

Friday 19 February – Perth Festival Beck’s Music Box

Saturday 20 February – The Zoo, Brisbane

Sunday 21 February – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT

Thursday 14 January – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Friday 15 January – The Zoo, Brisbane

Saturday 16 January – Summer Tones – The Corner, Melbourne

Sunday 17 January – East Brunswick Club, Melbourne