The Horrors – Strange House (2007): review

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Produced by Alan Moulder, Rob Kirwan, Nick Zinner, Ben Hillier, Jim Sclavunos, and Dimitri Tikovoi
Label – Loog

There was a regular case of media reservation attached to The Horrors rise, with at least half of the popular music publications implying that the 5 piece were style before substance. They looked convincing creatures from the small dark hours, kitted with the right wardrobe, the corpse like panda eyes, emo hair, and a tantalizingly gruesome stage presence. Whilst it’s likely that they probably frequented graveyards for relaxation, the question remained; could they cut it when compared to fellow shock rockers The Cramps, The Damned and The Birthday Party. All is revealed with their debut “Strange House”, which at least proves that the formula isn’t attributed to the 80s at all, and the effects laden surf guitar noises and cranky keyboard fills lend themselves to the instrumental music of Joe Meeks’ protege’s The Ventures, along with 60s American garage rock. Of course, it’s riotous, rough edged, fully blown schlock, with minimal tune and limited musicianship, but overall this collection is diverse enough to keep the listener unhealthily entertained, particularly by candlelight and with a glass of chilled Chianti. Indeed, their weird magnetism would coax famed video director Chris Cunningham to manufacture his first promo in seven years for the single “Sheena Is A Parasite”.

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There’s no hiding the vitality within “Strange House”, even if the content is a mixed bag. The songs that work adequately in a live format occasionally fail to translate to a studio recording. The monotonous instrumental “Gil Sleeping” offers vocalist Faris Rotter the opportunity for a break to take a slug of embalming fluid, leaving the band to grapple with an unfocused barrage of noise. The mumbling talk over vocals of “Excellent Choice” actually mar some interesting guitar/keyboard interplay, and should have been cut from the mix. Finally the closer “A Train Roars”, never seems to leave the station. At their best though, the squalling organ and screeching licks provide some rip roaring fun, a kind of early B52’s energy, and the sort of soundtrack imagery you’d expect Ed Wood would have drooled over. “Count In Fives”, “She Is A New Thing”, “Sheena Is A Parasite”, and “Gloves” all have the signature stark insistence for all those that like a little slaughter, blood letting, and general murderous carnage to while away a quiet evening.

Eerie noises and ghoulish fun, “Strange Hose” will become your music to crash the hearse to.

7/10

Track Listing
A1 Jack The Ripper
A2 Count In Fives
A3 Draw Japan
A4 Gloves
A5 Excellent Choice
A6 Little Victories
B1 She Is The New Thing
B2 Sheena Is A Parasite
B3 Thunderclaps
B4 Gil Sleeping
B5 A Train Roars

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