Review Summary: The Band That Wouldn't Die, Part 1: A Slow Start
In the interest of full disclosure, The Dwarves’ 1986 debut album Horror Stories
is not especially horrific, nor does it contain any discernible stories. In fact, it doesn’t contain much discernable anything. The most notable thing about this album is the way all the tracks tend to blend together into a single lo-fi, reverb-drenched haze. This makes picking out and describing individual songs difficult- After 3 listens through, I can’t really tell you anything about “Don’t Love Me” that wouldn’t also be true of “College Town” or “Love Gestapo” or any of the other songs on here. The keyboard-heavy “Get Outta My Life” stands out at the catchiest moment, and “Lick it” hints at the breakneck hardcore they would start pursuing shortly after Horror Stories’ release, but as a whole this record is awfully homogenous.
It is, of course, worth mentioning that in 1986 the Dwarves were far from being “the Dwarves” as we know them today- so far, in fact, that Blag Dahlia hadn’t even fully assumed vocal duties yet, splitting them 50/50 with drummer Sigh Moan. Hell, even calling this album “punk” would be quite a stretch- Horror Stories is grimy, deranged garage rock through-and-through, like something The Hives or Black Lips would play in their nightmares. ‘60s-fetishizing surf rock riffs, head-bobbing rhythms and demented pseudo-Elvis impersonations are the name of the game here. The band actually does a pretty fair job of it all around, too- While a lot the songs here are eminently forgettable, they never cross the line into being outright unpleasant.
Overall, Horror Stories
is a perfectly fine album, but it’s of little interest to anyone not specifically seeking to listen to as much Dwarves music as possible, and isn’t likely to appeal to those fond of anything they’ve put out since. Listenable though it may be, this album remains as inessential today as it was four years after its release, when the Dwarves unleashed what is still perhaps their definitive release as a group...