Saturday, 5 September 2009

Mercury 2009: The Horrors, 'Primary Colours'

I know my Mercury posts have been somewhat lacking, so for the remaining 11 albums (oh dear I've got a lot to do before Tuesday) I'm doing shorter reviews, having done the lengthy, indulgent review for 'Two Suns'; the album I want to win.
So, The Horrors. If you'd told me two years ago I would be writing something positive about The Horrors I would probably laugh at you and be like, "puhlease, do you think I'm a 15 year old emo/scene-kid?". True I was 15, but I wasn't buying into the whole "we wear all black, therefore we must be deeper than you could possibly imagine" thing, and didn't really trust Artrocker's judgement over my own. To be honest, I never really listened to their first album; there's something to be said about music being associated with a particular scene or trend, as it discourages people not from within that clique from listening to the music. People who liked the same music as me didn't like The Horrors, and that was all I needed to know. As far as I was concerned it was dark, screamy and ridiculous. Fast forward to around three months ago, and suddenly the entire blogging-world was going on about how awesome The Horrors were, and suddenly questions like "isn't Faris dreamy?" pervaded the air. Well, the last bit isn't true, but Faris and co certainly raised in my estimation when I saw the video for 'Who Can Say?' (below), my reaction to which was "wow". Dark, sexy, distorted guitars and almost nonchalant, low vocals. Was this honestly the same band? Am I now a 17 year old emo/scene-kid? Does my swooning at Faris in his white tux mean I actually think he's dreamy? These compelling questions could only be answered by seeking out the album, 'Primary Colours', and so I decided I would let go of all my silly prejudices and give it a listen.
There is a reason this album has been nominated, and I wouldn't be surprised or displeased if it won. Sure, there are still a couple screamy moments, but now I'm older and wiser it all seems to make so much more sense. Indeed, perhaps it's not only me but the band itself who have matured into an experience that's poignant, dissonant and - in many ways - nostalgic. The melancholy seems less ridiculously emo, more beautifully, delicately introspective, and the bits that are loud and aggressive are really intense, scuzzy and spectacular. It's frantic, it's wild, it's a little bit pretentious - isn't this what punk is all about? Listening to this startlingly assured album is like listening to a band that have found their feet at last.
Some critics argue that the sound isn't that original, but who cares if it's a great album? There are loads of garage/post-punk bands out there right now, sure, but they've got nothing on this.
Congratulations to The Horrors for converting me to a (somewhat embarrassed) fan, and well done on making a fantastic garage rock album.
I think this review is longer than my Bat For Lashes one, whoops.
Buy 'Primary Colours' HERE.

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