Before ‘Skying’, there was a lot of talk that The Horrors could be on the verge of creating their masterpiece – their ‘Screamadelica’, their ‘The Stone Roses’, their ‘Ladies And Gentlemen…’. ‘Skying’ isn’t quite their masterpiece – ‘Primary Colours’, NME’s Number One album of 2009, is actually a marginally greater piece of work by, well, just the two steps – but it was the album where they created something bigger: an entire, enclosed world
other than the five bandmembers making a grasp for the controls would swiftly receive a ruler to the knuckles.
‘Skying’, the product of this rein-seizing, did in fact contain elements of all the albums namechecked above – a potent groove that slipped them into a spinny headspace far more driving, chaotic and narcotic than before (‘Changing The Rain’, ‘Still Life’), comedown brass breaks offering the 5am sunrise moments (‘Endless Blue’, ‘Wild Eyed’), a mastering of layers verging on the orchestral. But, self-produced in their Shacklewell Lane bunker and named after an instrument they invented for its recording, this was the record that cut them off from their peers in more than just pedigree levels. By turning inwards and relying on no-one but themselves, they found a sound that reached further out than ever, allowing them to trouble the upper reaches of the album charts, mainstream radio and some of their biggest shows yet.
And they’ve stepped up to it: they look more noir-iconic than ever. Faris has refined his quivering bellow-croon into something more melodic than anyone who saw him dress up like a CITV horror show extra when 2007’s garage rock fumble ‘Strange House’ came out could have believed. Indeed, ‘Skying’ was more than an album – it was the new spearhead of a band for whom every tiny element slotted into place with a big black click, and it made them the ones to believe in more than any other this year. Not bad for a bunch of lads that includes one who used to insist on being referred to as Joshua Von Grimm. JF
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