12 May 2009

The Horrors: “Primary Colours”

After one listen, this album does not nurture the ear; it caresses it, prepares it and makes tender love to it. The Horrors have just released their second album, “Primary Colours” (5 May 2009 in the UK, 12 May 2009 in the US). The band is relatively new in the game, but exudes a confidence and maturity beyond what is expected. This album has been expected ever since late 2007 as The Horrors announced its release, and it took about a year to relieve the fans’ thirst. “Primary Colours” has three producers, Craig Silvey, Geoff Barrow (of Portishead fame), and Chris Cunningham. This is different than most albums, but it has definitely added sonic depth to the album.

With two singles already released, one of the tracks, “Sea Within the Sea,” has already been offered to download for free. The tracks have amazing instrumentals and an overall dark post-punk sound. Typical of post-punk revival, driving bass lines and percussion drive the music, with eclectic guitar playing and ambient keyboards. For the most part, the intros are very catchy and will hook you to listen to the rest of the song. Certain tracks have a jovial, upbeat sound while some may sound almost gothic rock-ish.

Each song sounds so different yet so recognizable to something that we’ve all heard before, which is a great thing. Considering all the cheers and raves over post-punk revival bands these days, whose influences become obvious after fifteen seconds of listening, this band has something distinctive about it. The lyrics, following the post-punk norm, are not the most upbeat ones but it is counterbalanced with infectious music. Track one, “Mirrors Image,” ends off with the lines “is it too late or are you forever in this state of crippling shyness, whenever you see her walking by?” Lyrical genius, stating the obvious, the mundane, in poetry, this is a talent that is hardly exercised. Although the lyrics are generally short, it is filled with this type of poetic resonance. Lines like “demands of a million, now everyone needs him sycophants send him to the edge of reason everyone knows him, he knows himself better haunted by alpha, he fears that they'll leave him in primary colours…” (“Primary Colours”) demonstrate a certain conscious craftsmanship in the lyrics, which is just as obvious in all the minor details they pay close attention to musically.

I am stuck on the album’s name: “Primary Colours.” Literally, primary colors are colors that are combined to make various colors from, so that they can be considered the foundation, the base of all colors. Much like the album, the lyrics and ideas, not to mention the composition and arrangements of the music, are very primary, primal even. Though the album is only three-quarters of an hour long, and seems less when you are enjoying the listen, there seems to be more packed in here than just that short span of time. You are left thinking and feeling you have been transported to another (sonic) world, and you just hit play again and restart the journey.

Track listing:
1. Mirror's Image
2. Three Decades
3. Who Can Say
4. Do You Remember
5. New Ice Age
6. Scarlet Fields
7. I Only Think of You
8. I Can't Control Myself
9. Primary Colours
10. Sea Within a Sea

Keep up with the band at their homepage and MySpace.

Here is their video for “Who Can Say” from the XLRecords YouTube Channel.