The Horrors - Skying (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Horrors

The Horrors: Skying

Skying (2011)

XL


4
When the Horrors made the jump from garage rock-flavored punk to shoegaze on 2009's Primary Colours, the result was revelatory, to say the least. I think I said something to the effect of "Got-damn! I say got-damn!" the first time I heard it, and the record continues to be a bright spot in shoegaze,...

When the Horrors made the jump from garage rock-flavored punk to shoegaze on 2009's Primary Colours, the result was revelatory, to say the least. I think I said something to the effect of "Got-damn! I say got-damn!" the first time I heard it, and the record continues to be a bright spot in shoegaze, a worthy successor to My Bloody Valentine and Ride. Here was a record with a throbbing, vibrant sonic array at its disposable, something that managed to sound dissonant and ethereal in equal measures.

But you can only pull that kind of a shocking turnaround once, which is why the group's follow-up, Skying, is nearly, almost, ever so slightly disappointing, to the extent that it doesn't bear the mind-blowing progression that marked its predecessor. Primary Colours was a thrilling left-field followup to Strange House; Skying is a logical progression. Still, when you're following up such a strong artistic breakthrough, being predictable isn't so bad.

Skying still falls under the shoegaze tag. Yet it's not quite as abrasive Colours, and that's a big difference. If Colours was so loud it made you see sounds, Skying is the soft comedown, comparatively. Shit, the first two tracks, "Changing the Rain" and "You Said" walk at a mid-tempo pace, dropping melodies just like honey while being a better second coming of the Stone Roses than Second Coming itself. I'm also going to throw in a Psychedelic Furs reference, if no other reason than songs like "Endless Blue" having saxophone.

What fans get here is a play-with-the-margins kind of album. If you got on board with Primary Colours, congratulations, here's another record of swirling, noisy pop, albeit with more everything–more quiet parts, more post-punk inclinations, more sax. But you also get an it-ain't-broke kind of album, one that delivers on all the promise of Colours. Skying is nearly an hour in length, but it carries a hypnotic haze throughout.

If Colours was the sound of the Horrors showing off their record collections, Skying is them rising up to meet them. It proves that Colours wasn't a fluke. It reveals that a band that used to rely on shock tactics for attention actually had something going on underneath. It acts as the quieter yin to Colours' searing yang. Also it's just a straight-up good album.