The Horrors - Strange House

Having scared the melody seeking, mainstream huggers by being to the NME Tour what Pete Doherty is to compliance. The Horrors demonstrates exactly how they did this, in leading track ‘Jack The Ripper’. Using brazen Killing Joke styled, haunting rushes in both the vocals and the throbbing, drawn out accompaniment, scattered with teetering rockabilly riffs. On album, this is easier to appreciate, especially when it is followed by the racing, frantic vocal led, previous single ‘Count In Fives’. This is what you should be terming NU Rave, it’s bold, moody and you can strut your stuff to it with impunity. It is an impact that is exemplified even further through the eerie, clanging, 70s atmospheric rock out of ‘Gloves’. The pace then slows down as the sinister narrative of Faris Badwan takes over, to instil coldness and distance. It has the impact of adding to the shock when the number races off discordantly, once again.

The commanding, cold and matter of fact narrative style continues through ‘Excellent Choice’. This is used to tell a tale of the normal everyday Morgan, well to the naked ear and eye that is. Its effect is emboldened by the use of eerie and slowly rising electro jolts on top of screeching vocal spasms. Making the lyrics even more of a slow, mind messing tale that makes Edgar Allan Poe seem like Agatha Christie;

“He doesn’t sleep much on account of terrible pain in his head.
  Sometimes Morgan sits up in the loft reading from a book of children’s stories….
  Morgan feels that his family has made a conscious effort to cause him misery….
  Morgan wishes his family dead.”

The eerie Mogwai meets The Fridge accompaniment continues to gather poignancy. Flitting between narratives, the vocals go on to mirror the voices in Normans head, as he is told he’s made an “Excellent Choice”. The pace of the album immediately jerks back to the frantic electro fits, via the sub-two minute head trip of ‘Little Victories’. We are reminded of the sort of impact this quintet are notorious for having in a live setting. ‘Sheena is a Parasite’, mirrors the jolting spastic impact of Whirlwind Heat, had they just been locked in a graveyard for 2 years and had to survive on whatever they could dig up.

Devilishly daring song-building takes over in ‘Thunderclaps’, mainly through its twining bass lines and multi-vocal grip that includes some shrill and sinister growling, as well as some creepy choral backing. This album spares no effort in searching under every rock and other objects to uncover the murky and sinister side to life and death. The result is a schizoid romp with range, a little rhythm and copious amounts of eccentricity and shock value.

David Adair

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