After self-producing 2014's Luminous, the Horrors worked with Paul Epworth, a producer renowned for his big sound, on their follow-up V. While the band's fifth album sounds expectedly stadium-sized, bringing another pair of ears into the fold seems to have pushed the Horrors to make the biggest changes to their music since Primary Colours. This time, along with synth pop and shoegaze, they make other sounds from the '80s and early '90s -- baggy, rave, industrial -- their playthings, most strikingly on the opener "Hologram," which sounds like a trippier take on Tubeway Army and sets the tone for V's edgier sounds and outlook. The band reflects on altered states of reality, as well as things that aren't quite real, on songs such as "Press Enter to Exit," where swirling beats and guitars match the band's musings on the looping nature of time, and the industrial-tinged "Machine," one of their noisiest and nastiest songs since Strange House. While duality and imitation are unsurprising lyrical territory for a band whose sound has changed so much over the years, each incarnation of the Horrors has felt genuine. V is no exception: As the album spans "World Below"'s fusion of shoegaze and industrial, "Something to Remember Me By"'s bittersweet widescreen synth pop, the trip-hop-tinged "Ghost," and the Suede-like balladry of "It's a Good Life," the variety of sounds the band explores feels particularly engaging, especially when compared to the way Skying and Luminous presented their music as an ethereal blur. Not everything on V works -- "Weighed Down" and "Gathering" lack the focus of the album's highlights -- but the songs that do are some of the Horrors' most exciting yet.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares