Sometimes it’s beneficial for a band to reinvent themselves, and sometimes it’s best to just perfect a developed style; luckily with Skying, The Horrors have done both. These gothed out English hipsters have all but abandoned the gritty punk guitar riffs of their debut, Strange House, and have honed in on the spaced out shoegazing aspects of their previous release, Primary Colors. Skying finds The Horrors combining the elements of retro post punk and gothic rock with contemporary indie stylings, as if The Cure made sweet sweet love to Arcade Fire.
The theme for Skying seems to be layers upon layers of effects. Everything in it is dripping with the thickest effects from reverb, delay, tremolo, phaser, 80’s style synth, and even a point in which a shaker, yes a shaker, is effected. These thick layers often make it seem as though the vocals are dipping and diving in and out of the darkest digital sea. But Faris Badwan’s voice isn’t flailing about, but rather provides steady, soothing strokes in which to navigate the noise. While Skying plants its roots in mellowed out shoegazing, it also hits you with pleasant little pockets of energy as you make your way through. After an extended instrumental intro, fourth track in “Endless Blue” suddenly bursts into a barrage of horn arrangements that make you question whether or not you’ve fallen into a ska album.
Another appealing facet of Skying is its successful use of dichotomies. In almost every track there is always this sense of tension between different instruments, tones, and arrangements that showcases a harsh but engaging blend of influences. This can be heard most obviously in track “Monica Gems”, where thin crunchy indie guitars are blended with the reverb heavy retro vocal stylings to form the comparison of The Cure and Arcade Fire which I mentioned previously.
Coming in at just under an hour, this ten track album does have a tendency to drag its ass. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that the first three tracks seem to blend endlessly into one another in kind of lazy approach that takes its time in immersing you into the full potential of the album. Also, the longest track on the album, “Moving Further Away”, relies heavily of a similar slow-moving progression that finds itself in needless repetition. However, the pacing is more often than not trumped by the overall quality of the songs themselves; both individually and collectively.
Skying is certainly the album that solidifies the attention that The Horrors have received over the years, and certainly proves their worth in this generation of musicians. Not only is Skying an accumulation of The Horrors past works but also an evolution into new territories that shows great growth and maturity from these promising young musicians.
Album Highlights: Endless Blue, Still Life, Oceans Burning
Album Low Points: I Can See Through You