First impressions can be a bitch. While some artists may spend their entire careers trying to shake any negative reputation they may have, some embrace it, and use it craftily to excel. For The Horrors, Primary Colours is simply one of the most perplexing, yet intriguing transformations of a band this end of the decade. Emerging in late 2005 as some fucked up punk-emo-goth hybrid, the Horrors stood amidst the darkness, showing a profound sense of indifference towards their music. Brandishing an image reminscant of Butch Patrick’s Eddie Munster, it was almost impossible not to immediately dismiss them as scenesters tailor made for the front cover of NME.
Three years have passed, and the Horrors have returned, bearing the fruits of their labour within Primary Colours. While their debut album Strange House seemed like a predictable scenester joke, they have returned from their darkness to destroy any preconceived notions that anyone has had about their music. The sophomore symptoms are fairly evident within Primary Colours, as it is truly a darker, detailed and more mature band presenting us with these songs. Where we once heard chaotic punk within the likes of “Death at the Chapel”, we now find a collection of meticulously constructed shoegazing tracks. Closing track “Sea Within A Sea” is perhaps the perfect summation of Primary Colours as a whole, embodying their new progressive sound. Weighing in at an epic eight minutes, “Sea Within A Sea” is built upon a simplistic bass and drum combination, whilst reverb drenched guitars and synthesisers swell, as Faris broods over his loneliness. Quickly taking an ambitious turns, arpeggiated synthesisers and distorted guitars continue to amalgamate, concluding in a positively ironic chaotically-structured finale While stating that it may be one of the best songs of the decade may seem outlandish, “Sea Within A Sea” is truly a critical and worthy testament to the shoegazing canon.
The Horrors have clearly been drawing blood from precursors such as My Bloody Valentine and Suicide, wearing the influence blatantly on their sleeve. It is by no means a bad thing, and the decision to employ Geoff Barrow of Portishead as lead producer was perhaps one of the best choices in assisting this new direction. “Do You Remember” – as rash as it sounds – could be in another dimension, a b-side to a My Blood Valentine track.
Lyrically, Faris takes a step in evolution, rather than revolution. Where “Sheena” was once a parasite, Faris now diverts his attention to fair retribution and fate. Lead single “Who Can Say” finds the frontman being on the other end of the spectrum, being the catalyst for a break up due to his own insecurities and indifference, hosting a personal diatribe, “I know these words may only serve to twist a knife, but I’ll try to make them hurt.” The title track is merely perplexing in its content, where any open interpretation could perceive the self-conscious narrator of being an almost religious leader, paranoid of being overturned by his people. Go figure.
Primary Colours is definitely a positive change for the Horrors, and while it has some amazingly endearing moments, it lingers in areas. The ambition within “I Only Think Of You” is evident, almost alluding to Joy Division’s “Atmosphere”, but it falls short in its execution. For the Horrors, Primary Colours is merely a stepping stone; a vicious missile placing them on the radar. They are no longer erratic and directionless, and their intentions to compose admirable and detailed music is commendable.