Review Summary: The Horrors fail to impress on their first outing.
I really, really
want Joshua Von Grimm's (Joshua Hayward) guitar effects processor. I don't know whether it's a result of his B.Sc. in Physics from University College London or watching infinite repeats of the Addams Family that he came to making his own box, but for The Horrors breed of what I like to call Frankenstein music it's perfect.
Which is not to say that Strange House is perfect. In fact, it barely makes the cut.
Faris Rotter (Faris Badwan) is your quintessential new garage punk vocalist. He's got the whole "look I can do The Killers AND The Strokes" thing going for him and it wouldn't be all bad, if he didn't end up sounding like a drunken bum trying to read from a teleprompter on most songs. Pugsley and Wednesday are not going to be happy.
The album itself is pretty sketchy. At parts it takes off and seems to be going somewhere, but then they manage somehow to disturb the trend. It starts decently with Jack The Ripper - a howling, rollercoaster of a song that is probably the most 'original/unique' the album gets. The single Sheena Is A Parasite is nothing too special (in fact, I haven't quite understood what the fuss is all about). The album has several low points where it seems the band hasn't tried at all and just want to fill in the gaps between the more upbeat numbers. They're worse than fillers cos this is material that the band already had, i.e., the album is essentially re-recorded material from earlier releases.
Here's what The Horrors have got going for them - the novelty. They're a little different, and have some decent instrumentation. I'm assuming they'll have their live act sorted out, and the songs themselves lend to a reasonable amount of creativity when it comes to a show. Songs like Count In Fives and Draw Japan are like watching Young Frankenstein on fast forward, under influence. Nothing spectacular, but decent enough to ensure two, maybe three listens.
Where The Horrors find themselves screwed are, ironically, that they're just a novelty. And not a very intriguing novelty at that. Take the instrumental Gil Sleeping for example. There's absolutely nothing that stands out about the track except Von Grimm's... okay, that sounded lame... Hayward's guitars, which too, play to a rhythm. It's like they just removed the vocal track from the final recording. They've not been creative enough to explore. Most of the songs begin to sound the same after a while and you begin wondering whether you really like the organ anyways (wow, I'm on fire today).
It's a fundamental dilemma The Horrors face, and essentially, a standpoint can only be made by how the band see themselves and where they intend to be. Unfortunately for them, it currently doesn't seem them going too far.
Frankly, the whole big organ sound was much better on Cursive's The Ugly Organ. The Horrors have managed to throw in some typical new-indie-Brit wordplay and like most of the NME's big things, don't really have much substance other than a few decent hooks and some uppity beats.