As good as the Horrors' third album Skying was, it sometimes felt like the band expanded on the risks they took on Primary Colours in ways that felt reliable instead of daring. On Luminous, they trade their previous album's daydream-y excursions for something with a little more grit and drive. "I See You," the lead single from the group's fourth album, suggested that the Horrors had found a way to inject Skying's Echo and the Bunnymen and Simple Minds homages with more urgency; the way the song builds toward its massive coda -- and keeps lifting from there -- makes it a standout as well as a worthy heir to the band's definitive epic, "Sea Within a Sea." This urgency extends to the album's hookier songwriting: "So Now You Know" and "Jealous Sun" prove that the Horrors can balance epic sounds with memorable melodies. Luminous also makes more, and better, use of Rhys Webb's keyboards, which give added heft to "Mine and Yours"' sweeping dream pop and an extra sparkle to "Falling Star." Despite the heavily layered guitars and synths that dominate the album, the rhythm section drives many of the best moments. "In and Out of Sight" weaves some subtle punk-funk moves into its lush atmosphere, making it a surprisingly danceable standout. Likewise, "First Day of Spring" gives the drums and bass more of a workout than they've had since the Primary Colours days. Conversely, the Horrors give Luminous more scope with "Change Your Mind," a pretty ballad that ranks among the band's most intimate songs and feels particularly refreshing after so many elaborate tracks. While the changes the band makes to its music post-Primary Colours are more subtle, Luminous proves the Horrors still have a sense of adventure; they sound comfortable, but not too comfortable to try new things.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares