If there’s one thing The Horrors have always been good at, it’s surprising people. With their early singles and first album they did it by playing breakneck garage-punk and dousing audiences in black paint and feathers. With their second LP, they unpredictably turned into respectable sonic innovators – and with their third, they stormed the album chart and even the Radio 1 playlist. Now it’s time for album four, and they’ve done it again. ‘Luminous’ is one of the biggest, tightest, most engrossing records we’ve heard from a British band in years.
The band’s songwriting confidence, which ebbed and flowed on 2011’s ‘Skying’, reaches new heights here. The sublime ‘So Now You Know’ is probably the most ‘pop’ song The Horrors have ever written – but ‘Luminous’ is also admirably envelope-pushing. It takes real balls to begin what’s ostensibly an indie rock album with almost three minutes of semi-ambient electronics and percussion. Opening track ‘Chasing Shadows’ not only pulls it off, but goes on to become a synth-gazing stand-out track.
That said (and even though it’s a crashing contradiction in terms) practically every track on ‘Luminous’ is some sort of highlight. The dance floor-ready ‘In and Out of Sight’ flickers and shimmers enthrallingly, ‘Jealous Sun’ packs a monstrous, sickly shoegazing riff, and ‘I See You’ builds and builds into an overwhelming coda – before ‘Change Your Mind’ uses a skeletal verse to prove that The Horrors don’t have to be big to be clever.
It looked after ‘Skying’ as though The Horrors were on the cusp of something brilliant, but ‘Luminous’ shines even brighter than anyone had any right to anticipate. Our only worry is how they’re going to top it next time around. Then again, if there’s one thing they’ve always been good at…
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