The Horrors, Luminous – Album review
After three albums of chameleon-like reinvention, The Horrors’ fourth outing sees them in somewhat of a holding pattern. Their previous effort, Skying, saw them integrate shoegaze and new wave into the kraut-ish psychedelica of Primary Colours. As a result both albums were complete makeovers for the band. On Luminous they have found a plateau whilst adding hints of Madchester and early 90’s dance to the elements they employed on Skying. The result of which is a well produced, groove-laden album with some excellent melodic moments.
An obvious element to the album after a few listens is the elongated arrangements which result in some rewarding payoffs. I See You seems a bold choice for lead single when you notice the seven-and-half-minute runtime, the last three minutes of which is an instrumental outro, but I actually found this to be one of my favourite parts on the album as it provides a transcendent moment you can totally lose yourself in. And on the luscious So Now You Know the vocal doesn’t come in until after 90 seconds but despite this it somehow still remains the album’s most accessible track due to its simple structure and anthemic chorus.
All this running time has to be filled in somehow and so over the last four albums the role the guitar plays has evolved into that of textural, ambient sound design which easily lends itself to extended intros and instrumental passages. Guitarist, Joshua Hayward succeeds in creating an inventive, sonic fabric with which the majestic lead synth lines can cut through and take center stage.
Badwan’s voice will still be the weak link in all of this for a lot of people but I’ve found that this can be alleviated with a change in perspective. Badwan’s airy delivery is simply a solitary building block of the bubbling, cinematic atmosphere created by the band as a whole. When taken in that context I find rather than being a sticking point his voice just becomes a pleasant part of the expansive, sonic scenery unfolding.
And so whilst Luminous may be criticised as being formulaic its rich compositions, solid songwriting and excellent production values save it from being just a poor cousin to 2011’s Skying. It’s a mature offering that succeeds in expanding the scope of their sound, filled with shifting layers and moving parts that reward on repeat listens.
Review by Dean Rostron.