In this week’s issue of NME magazine, we’re joined by The Horrors as they let us in on the secrets behind their new album ‘Luminous’. “Music is primal, intuitive… We’re not a band of scientists,” said frontman Faris Badwan of their new material. But, while The Horrors aren’t the type to work in some sterile laboratory, they are masters of evolution, revolution and re-invention: a band who’ve moved from snotty, soot-blackened punk to synth-specked gothgaze to epic neo-psychedelia. And, predictably, ‘Luminous’ finds them pushing at their own boundaries more than ever before. So let’s take a look at how The Horrors have changed, grown over the years and continued to be bloody brilliant for nearly a whole decade.
Formed in Southend-On-Sea in 2005, by 2006 The Horrors seemingly arrived fully-formed: a bunch of nightmarish cartoon characters as styled by Tim Burton who peddled ghoulish horror punk. Tom Oxley/NME
The band released a clutch of singles in 2006, including the bratty ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’, a garage punk thrash with a title indebted to The Ramones and a video starring Oscar nominated actress Samantha Morton. Ed Miles
Still sporting the Victorian ne’er do well look, The Horrors released their six-track, self-titled EP in October 2006. In addition to ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’, it included ‘Count In Fives’ and their vampish take on Screaming Lord Sutch’s ‘Jack The Ripper’. Dean Chalkley
Strange House’, The Horrors’ debut album, was released in 2007. NME declared: “‘‘Strange House’ is a strong debut from a band who, many sceptics believed, were at their best in front of a camera rather than behind instruments.” Getty
By now, though, The Horrors were moving away from the old Penny Dreadful aesthetic of yore, and began to phase out the larger-than-life monikers (‘Spider’ Webb, ‘Coffin Joe’ and so forth) they’d introduced themselves with. Getty
And so began the second stage of The Horrors: still clad in black and with sullen frowns, but moving in a more focused direction, signing to XL Records and releasing a tantalising taster for their new LP – the fantastic, flickering red-light wooziness of ‘Sea Within A Sea’, with eight-minutes of Neu!-like synths and Spacemen 3-style grooves. Andy Wilsher/NME
Christ! Some white to break up the obsidian wardrobes! More importantly, 2009 saw the release of ‘Primary Colours’. “Right now, this feels like the British art-rock album we’ve all been waiting for,” said NME in 2009. Five years later, and it still feels every bit as vital. Andy Whitton/NME
A slicker, suaver Horrors to go with their new sound, here, as the band began to plot a ‘Primary Colours’ follow-up.
That follow-up arrived in 2011, with ‘Skying’ seeing The Horrors grow ever more focused and nuanced: less prone to thrashes of noise, more inclined to vapour trails of blissful psychedelia and fuzzy alchemy. NME said at the time: “It not only reaffirms that ‘Primary Colours’ was far from a fluke, but that they could go so much further. Now, wouldn’t that be the thing?” Dean Chalkley/NME
Originally, The Horrors had planned to release their fourth album in September 2013, but studio delays meant the release date was pushed back. “We basically had the choice between finishing the record and it being one way, or giving it a few more months and it being substantially better,” Faris told NME. “Albums last forever, there’s no point rushing it.” Lili Forberg/NME
Finally, last month, The Horrors gave us our first glimpse of ‘Luminous’: the twisting, labyrinthian ‘I See You’. Jenn Five/NME
And so ‘Luminous’ has birthed another reinvention: light and shade, brightness and darkness, contrasts of colour and bleakness. “We have a strong idea of what The Horrors’ identity is, and with each Horrors record we twist that, change it slightly.” Still fond of the drastic understatement though, eh Faris? Dean Chalkley/NME