The Horrors shine on ‘Luminous’: an album review

Luminous, the fourth album by UK rock band The Horrors, sounds like a light show, thanks to its spacey synths, foggy guitars and distant, indistinct vocals.

The Horrors began as a horror punk band in 2006. This was when I first heard of them, although I’m going to destroy my hipster cred by adding that I did not care for them and wrote them off for six years. When I rediscovered them, they had changed completely.

Luminous, much like 2011’s Skying and 2009’s Primary Colours, sounds like the work of shoegaze bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. These bands, such as Ride, Slowdive and (of course) My Bloody Valentine, made music that sounded ghostly yet monolithic.

However, The Horrors add an element of danciness that a lot of those bands lacked. Songs like “I See You” (which begins with what has to be an homage to “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer) and “Chasing Shadows” feature shimmery synths and bouncing drums that would fit in at a club more than on Loveless.

The best song on Luminous, “In And Out Of Sight,” really shows what makes the album enjoyable as a whole. The song features a strong bass groove, a great drumbeat that pops right out of the mix and a wall of sound formed by a bright synth, an ethereal guitar and Faris Badwan’s distant vocals.

One issue with the album is that many of the songs somewhat bleed into each other, which is a major weakness with shoegazing as a whole. Although a few songs (namely “Change Your Mind,” which is different from the rest of the album) have a coherent vocal performance, the production generally under-emphasizes the vocals, making the lyrics hard to decipher. However, this is a matter of personal preference, since the lyrics on those songs were probably chosen more for their sound than for their meaning.

In the end, Luminous is a solid album. The songs are well crafted, although they’re the auditory equivalent of a Cubist painting. This isn’t for everyone, but it will appeal to you if you’re a fan of the genre.

— John Kesler