The Horrors

Skying

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Skying boasts a song called “Moving Further Away,” and that’s exactly what the Horrors do on their third album. Neither a return to Strange House's goth-punk nor a simple continuation of Primary Colours' acclaimed Krautrock/shoegaze fusion, this time the band sets the dials of its way-back machine for the mid- and late ‘80s, sampling post-punk luminaries such as Echo & the Bunnymen, the Psychedelic Furs, and Simple Minds as well as the era’s baggy trend. Yet somehow the Horrors' chameleon act seems more cohesive and convincing -- or perhaps it’s just less shocking to hear them give their music another complete makeover. The main remnant of Primary Colours is that album’s atmospheric yet detailed production, which the Horrors embellish further with dense layers of synth, guitars, and vocals. Skying's centerpiece and lead single, “Still Life,” defines its approach, with sparkly mid-‘80s keyboards and brass that only strengthen the feeling that Jim Kerr sang this song over the credits of some long-lost John Hughes movie. Though “Still Life” isn’t as striking a salvo as Primary Colours' “Sea Within a Sea,” it’s just as striking in its own way, and even if nothing here quite matches their previous flashes of brilliance, Skying reflects the Horrors' growing abilities. Not only do the bandmembers stretch the muscles they developed on Primary Colours with workouts like the aforementioned “Moving Further Away” and “Oceans Burning,” both of which expand on “Sea Within a Sea”’s motorik rhythms and suite-like movements, they also turn in some downright poppy moments like the towering “I Can See Through You” and “Endless Blue.” While the Horrors' main skill still seems to be embodying whatever styles catch their fancies as completely as they can, they put more of their own stamp on these sounds, as “Dive In”’s melodramatic take on baggy’s usually fun-loving grooves and the dub influence hovering around “Wild Eyed” attest. Interestingly, Skying's most overtly rock song, “Monica Gems,” is far tamer than anything on Strange House and even a good chunk of Primary Colours, underscoring just how far they’ve ventured with each album. Regardless of where they end up next, the Horrors have already traveled much further than most listeners would have imagined.

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