The Horrors - Strange House (Cover Artwork)

The Horrors

The Horrors: Strange House

Strange House (2007)

Stolen Transmission


3.5
On their 2007 album, Strange House, the British band Horrors mix dance and mainstream elements with the dissonance of earlier post-punk acts, like the Birthday Party -- right down to the yelping/screaming singer channeling a young Nick Cave. Although this may make it sound watered down for mainstrea...

On their 2007 album, Strange House, the British band Horrors mix dance and mainstream elements with the dissonance of earlier post-punk acts, like the Birthday Party -- right down to the yelping/screaming singer channeling a young Nick Cave. Although this may make it sound watered down for mainstream consumption, and indeed, it may be slightly, Strange House is actually much better than you would think. Horrors update the sound for the single-hounding iPod generation, making it not necessarily generic, but certainly nothing groundbreaking, either. It has simply just tweaked a bit to warrant a good fanbase of both mainstream and fringe-loving rock fans.

Strange House ends with the song "A Train Roars" and with its guitar effects by Joshua Von Grimm recalling the post-punk of yesteryear, as well as the synthesizer of Spider Webb being placed in the background that gives it a danceable under-laying quality, it all enhances the gothic-punk croon of Farris Badwan and thus defines the elements of the rest of the album, whether they be for better or worse. These positive elements include the ominous chug displayed so finely in the album opener, "Jack the Ripper," a cover of the old Screaming Lord Sutch staple, that at about the halfway point moves so fast it seems to almost collide with next song, the dancefloor jerker, "Count in Fives." This song, also using synthesizer effects, makes it fit to be played nonstop in the clubs this coming Halloween.

Yet, the bad elements in the album come when this dance-oriented band actually plays their instruments, or when Badwan actually sings. In that, Horrors try to do so much but usually do not succeed, especially when they depart from the route of catchy hooks. It actually comes across rather stagnant and the band's experiments often differentiate only in the way of them playing their instruments even faster. This obviously becomes rather boring, instead of emotionally incendiary (ex. "Little Victories," "Horrorsā?? Theme," etc.).

Yet, the gothic-instrumental "Gil Sleeping" may be the exception, but even that's more because it is more pleasing to hear, due to the way it actually works inside this album of hooks and screams more than it should. Yet, aside from the short-ranting rave-up, "Sheena Is a Parasite," those first two songs ("Jack the Ripper," "Count in Fives") are where the album is truly at its best. Know that it's actually frontal padding and it's pretty unfortunate it takes place on this otherwise pretty well-conceived album.

In the end, when Horrors balance the combination of originality with sounding like everyone else is truly where they truly know how to rock out quite finely.

Notes:

  1. The current North American Enhanced Version on Stolen Transmission records includes music videos of the songs "Count in Fives" and "Gloves."
  2. The current UK version on Polydor Group Records includes the single, "Death at the Chapel," but does not include these music videos.