Review Summary: Evolution takes its course.
I find it rather strange how most people view caterpillars. The average person often find caterpillars to be ugly and almost disgusting to look at. But then of course, metamorphosis takes its course. For a period of time, the caterpillar will encase itself in silk that is released from its mouth and takes the form of a cocoon. And then, almost like a magic trick, a completely different being arises out of the cocoon- A butterfly. It's as if it was just birthed. It comes back out into this world, spreads its wings, and flies away to encounter a new stage in its life. This is still the same creature, but people's opinions on it are now suddenly much more tolerant. Most cultures even associate butterflies as beautiful and majestic.
Throughout the artwork of their new album, Skying
, despite its name, there are many images of the band photographed while surrounded by natural landscapes, particularly forests. Reflecting a new appreciation for nature. Images of blossoming flowers, and rustling leaves- The main dietary sources of caterpillars and butterflies. The background story of The Horrors is one we have seen a multitude of times in other music groups, of bands artistically evolving into what their music was meant to be. The evolution of a band is often caused by similar circumstances- losing a member, gaining a member, falling in, or out of a trend, as their music evolves for better or worse. But in the case of The Horrors, no member was lost or gained, it was just something that had to happen- Simply a band maturing into itself.
The Horrors started out as a rather young group who embraced the slowly diminishing gothic trend, while writing music with dark expressions to match their appearance and "Halloween-themed" stage names. Their debut album, Strange House
, was released in 2006. Needless to say, this wasn't a relatively attractive look for the band. Their music was well-received by some, but it had very little depth artistically. The album seemed like something that was nothing more than a trend, a fad. This wasn't a band that was going to be remembered after its end. The fanbase that nurtured its modest popularity consisted of a relatively young audience that found the music's counterculture message attractive because they were beginning to discover the rebel within themselves. Sure these fans related to the music now, but they will eventually mature into an adult mentality and grow out of this phase while beginning to relate to another kind of music, and The Horrors knew this.
Then for a time, after touring their debut album and appearing occasionally in the media, we didn't hear anything from The Horrors for almost 2 years. They chose to conceal themselves within the walls of a studio, evolving their sound- metamorphosis was taking its course. In 2009, The Horrors began giving word of their new album, Primary Colours
, but this wasn't the same group who wrote Strange House. They were almost hard to recognize in their new photographs. They began referring to themselves by their birth names, changing their hair from black to their natural color, and they even began dressing in a regular fashion. This was a band that was had finally found a sense of identity, becoming conscious of their purpose and the direction they want to take their music.
The music of Primary Colours began experimenting with Psychedelic overtones and Shoegaze arrangements. They were departing from the adolescent roar of their punk and garage rock roots, and embracing something much more abstract. The Horrors weren't fully aware of what kind of band they were yet, but they knew where they wanted to go. Months after the release of Primary Colours, the band released a music video for a new single aptly named, "Whole New Way"
. The music of the song differs from most of the tracks in Primary Colours, it showed the band embracing the Shoegaze tendencies of the album rather than their original rock sound. The music video depicts the band walking through an open field at night, as dawn slowly approaches. Together they stand before a hill looking up to the sky, watching the sun rising from the horizon- A symbolic reference. It was their way of telling us that this was the end of an era and the beginning of a new a one.
In 2011, the band released their latest album, Skying. The group that this album introduces has reached its final stage in their course of evolution. Every member of the band displays such a conscious dexterity for their respective instruments. All of the songs on the album are orchestrated not just to simply listen to, but something to meditate in your mind. The music, the lyrics, every element shows a sophistication well beyond their years. Skying is rich with hypnotic ambience, and shows a better understanding of psychedelic music. But the music doesn't experiment with the distorting effects caused by psychedelic music, but the trancing atmosphere its sound can induce, examples being in songs like "Endless Blue"
and "You Said"
. There is a lucid feeling of optimism that flows through the music, as well as the lyrics, which further contrasts Skying from its predecessor. It's almost like the music dissolves reality all around us and takes us away to somewhere deep within our minds. Every word that comes out of Faris Badwan's mouth sparks an emotion within us, and the music creates an image, a scene in our heads that reflects the emotion. The Horrors have truly outdone themselves in the lyrical content of Skying, moving past typical topics such as romance and entering into a more poetic, yet metaphorical ambiguous style of writing. "Still Life"
, for example, displays a pseudo-philosophical presence within its lyrics, reflecting a sense of spiritual rebirth. The song induces an almost cathartic experience when one listens to it.
Primary Colours could now bee seen as a transitional period for The Horrors. They hadn't quite left their Garage Punk sound, and they hadn't fully explored their newfound aspirations for the trancing sound of Shoegaze. But in Skying, we find that the band have not only fully embraced the ambiance of Shoegaze, but are also exploring different realms within the sub-genres of Psychedelia. "Moving Further Away"
, and the album finale, "Oceans Burning"
, though these opuses differ in sound, they take us through similar odysseys that eventually have us finding ourselves within the abstract realms of Progressive rock. Constantly evolving in sound and taking us through different passages that explore contrasting moods. Overall, I can't say if this album will please fans of the earlier works by The Horrors, due to its radical change. Skying has received much critical acclaim since its debut, and to to the enlightened listener, they may find this metamorphosis in music to be simply divine. This is definitely an album to check out for any fans of Psychedelic music.