dinsdag 17 juni 2014

Luminous. The Horrors

We're nearly 2.50 minutes on route with Luminous. Nearly three minutes of electronic warbling music, not unpleasant, but also not going anywhere. Just stacks of synth sounds. And then the song explodes into something like a U2, Simple Minds, I don't care, even Depeche Mode infused rocksong with a Madchester lightness and beat. The combination just totally works and is totally 80s. A huge sound, created for stadiums. Guitars like jet engines, light sounding lead lines from a synthesizer. Pounding drums and bass. The light sounding voice of Faris Badwan floats over, well, everything else. In this way The Horrors finally, truly seems to have found its own voice.

The Horrors started in 2005 in Southend-on-Sea in the U.K., releasing its debut album, 'Strange house' in 2007. This was followed by 'Primary colours' in 2009 and 'Skying' in 2011. The first album didn't do anything with me. 'Primary colours' set a little better with me, but perhaps more from the surprise in the difference between the two albums. 'Skying' was listened to more often and was reviewed in the PDF version of WoNo Magazine of old. It is with Luminous though that The Horrors and I truly meet up.

In a way this is strange as Luminous totally goes 80s in sound, in atmosphere and in form. But as with many other band active in the 10s, it lacks the total gloom of the impending doom that hovered over the 80s. Welcome to the age of denial? That is for sure, but the slow threat of global warming, empty seas, melting ice caps and thawing tundras is harder to grasp and see than imminent nuclear disaster. Hence the sense of melody in the music of The Horrors or just a perfect blend of musical styles? Depeche Mode with Soft Cell? That is what I notice most it seems. The darkness blended with the melancholy music and melody of Marc Almond and David Ball. 'Say hello, wave goodbye' and 'Torch' is all over Luminous. 'First day of spring' is 100% Soft Cell with an electric guitar in there. With a little Tears for Fears of 'The hurting' and China Crises as a desert. Meaning a rare blend of electro disco with an electronic form of rock. It is because these references that I'm attracted to Luminous. The sort of 80s music that I could stand for a few songs at a time.

Is this the same for Luminous? No, I sit out the album without a problem. There is hardly any 80s album that can claim that and that includes albums from that decade by some of my really favourite artists as well. Why? Again, because of that rare mix The Horrors seems to have made. I can't really put my finger on it to be honest, but there is an element in here that was missing (over) 30 years ago. The sound is better, but that's not it. My best guess remains with the lightness of the sounds.

The downside of this all is that The Horrors may be doing a trick. Look at us doing a 1980s blend/band. The way from 'Strange house' is not exactly a logical one. The albums could not be further apart. A sin of the band's youth or a record that did not work, so it made a career switch? Whatever the answer, let's enjoy Luminous in the meantime. This album holds enough to enjoy, so we can hold back on scepticism. And, the step from 'Skying' is not so strange. More refined Luminous is for sure, but the two albums are not far apart.

Luminous is a cluttered album. The sound is full and very present. Synthesizers come from everywhere, drums fill everything. Every once in a while delightful details escape the dense forest of sound and over this all the sun shines. In this sense 'Change your mind' is the odd one out on Luminous. A fairly empty, ballad like song. The rays of light come Faris Bagwan's voice. Rays lighting up all below it. Dreaming away on a sunny afternoon. And thus the secret may just have been revealed anyway.


You can listen to 'I see you' here.

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