The Horrors - Sea within a Sea

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

A brave comeback. Many laughed at The Horrors the first time round and perhaps they were right to. Here was a band seemingly dreamed up by NME to fill space during a slow week - skinny of jean and monumental of hair, bashing out sets of nothing but amphetamine-shocked 60s garage psyche, The Horrors were instantly huge and then, as is the rightful way with such flimflam, instantly over. Or so it seemed.

'Sea within a Sea' was not just brave because it struck a decisive victory against the band's foes. It was brave because it probably wasn't even what their remaining fans expected to hear. In place of the tinny, hyper-speed riffs and Hammer Horror organ parps of their debut, 'Sea within a Sea' kicks into life with an unsparingly horizontal motorik beat, repetitive bass pressure and a few hazy guitar effects expanding to fill the newfound space. Then singer Faris Badwan (formally Faris Rotter, and that change seemed significant) condenses into being through the parched sound, little more than another ghostly effect, lowing to us about scraping skies and wicked stone.

Only three minutes in and already so much here is utterly new to The Horrors' sound - the emptiness, the seething guitar, the locked down bass. But best all is the palpable feeling that here, unexpectedly, is a band making a sound because they find it beautiful, strange, irresistible. And that's only the start. After a moody lull, the song suddenly explodes into its second half with a burst of fizzing electronics, urging the band towards a soaring, redemptive climax.

Yes, The Horrors' new inspirations are as easily spotted as their previous ones. Neu!, PiL and LCD Soundsystem were most likely on the turntable when the band were writing this song. But the finished product is theirs alone, sounding unlike either their heroes or, crucially, anything else released in 2009. A brave comeback indeed.

Richard Morris

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