Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Horrors: Primary Colours

Photo: Paul Butterfield/Getty Images

The Horrors broke out because of what they weren’t: The band’s screeching, unhinged garage-punk—backed by its vampires-on-a-coke-bender image—was a defiant gob of morbidity hocked in the face of all the Snow Patrols and Coldplays turning England’s kitchen-sink frustrations into dishwater mopiness. Primary Colours finds the group forced to justify that anti-pop stance as more than a reactionary joke, which it accomplishes… by making a pop record. With the help of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, The Horrors have transformed into an amalgam of great British bands—equal dollops of My Bloody Valentine, Psychedelic Furs, Suede, and Joy Division—and traded shocking for stunning. Layers of soft-focus Krautrock synthesizers bleed into the warped drones of the gray-hued opener “Mirror’s Image” and broken-down carnival shudders of “Three Decades,” setting the tone for an album immersed in smeared, shimmering texture. It culminates in the eight-minute closer “Sea Within A Sea,” which drowns its post-punk ebbs in sprays of crashing guitar before being carried out on a sparkling tide of minimalist electronic pulses. The Horrors have gone from terrifying to haunting, an effect that lingers far longer.


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