by Cuyler Mortimore
What we have is an album that is almost impossible to dissect, by which I mean it’s impossible to listen to in spurts. You have no choice but to listen to it in one fell 50 minute swoop. The Horrors' 2011 album Skying feels less like an album composed of catchy one liners, and more like one coherent 50 minute statement. It truly needs your time and attention to sit with, to wrestle, and to absorb.
Perhaps the most jarring thing about this album is the move away from the purposefully manic sort of post-punk that put The Horrors on the charts into something that could be described as 80s psychedelia. The band got their start in England doing just such post-punk stuff with their first album, Strange House in 2005. They hit both critical and commercial success garnering a rep for the fast and frantic live shows. Their third album seems to be imitating the punk music curve right into the dreamy disaffected (but irresistibly catchy) electronic pop of the 80s. It’s always deeply satisfying to see artists unafraid to experiment.
Elements of the album, such as the track “You Said,” have a distinct 80s dream pop effect: lots of echo and reverb, heavy emphasis on synthesizer effects and soaring chord structures. Tracks like the first one, “Changing The Rain,” feel like a nod toward modern dream-pop acts like Coldplay. Other tracks feel a more like something that fell out of the 70s psychedelia movement. The final track, “Oceans Burning,” features prominent acoustic work, sounding a bit like a continuation of the same themes explored by long-standing English rock band, King Crimson.
Your ears will thank you for throwing this in your CD player. Each listen yields something you didn’t notice before, and sometimes you get so caught up in the dreaminess that you kind of forget you’re listening to music - in a good way. The album excels at obviously paying homage to older musical art forms, but never feels derivative or stale.