On their singles and EPs, the Horrors proved they'd done their post-punk and freakbeat homework. With their debut album, Strange House, they push their sound forward, distill it to its rawest essence, and give it a few funhouse mirror twists and turns for good measure. Almost half of the songs on the album already appeared on previous Horrors releases, but the ever-so-slightly cleaner production here gives more definition to their black-on-black sound. The band kicks off Strange House by revisiting their cover of Screaming Lord Sutch's "Jack the Ripper," which begins at a zombie-slow pace, then suddenly speeds up halfway through, transforming into a hurtling roller coaster of a song that makes a great introduction to Strange House's mix of campy humor, energy, and menace. With its dive-bombing noise barely held together by Faris Badwan's shouting and the faintest hint of a melody, "Sheena Is a Parasite" is still the Horrors' best and most radical song, although several other tracks here rival its black-hearted thrills. Once again, Spider Webb's vicious keyboards are the band's not-so-secret weapon, especially on the fantastic, strutting "She Is the New Thing," which blurs the line between girls and trends, flings and boredom, with macabre flair. On Strange House's wildest tracks, the Horrors channel their idol Joe Meek's love of wild sounds. "Thunderclaps" grafts galloping rhythms, twangy guitars, and chanted backing vocals together, Frankenstein-style, while "Little Victories" brandishes noisy onslaughts and turns them off just as quickly. The very end of the album gets even weirder and more deconstructed: "Gil Sleeping"'s woozy organs and jazzy drumming and "A Train Roars"' ominous, loping rhythms show that the Horrors are committed to pushing the boundaries of their sound, even if these experiments aren't quite as immediate as their more song-based work. The Horrors are unabashedly arty and stylish, but they're a great example of the kind of art-school band that lurks in the shadows of British rock (and of which there have been too few in the 2000s). If you like what the Horrors do, then Strange House is an album that can never be loud enough.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares