The fu­ture’s bright

Rock changelings’ synth-pop con­ver­sion. By Ste­vie Chick.

Mojo (UK) - - News -

The Hor­rors V CARO­LINE. CD/DL/LP

AF­TER THREE years of golden slum­ber and suave side-projects, canny five-man pop col­lec­tive The Hor­rors awaken in their com­mu­nal club­house, rub the kohl out of their eyes and ask them­selves that burn­ing ques­tion: what next? Their an­swer is a lusty, de­ci­sive “The fu­ture!”, but when you’re gifted with an en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of pop and im­mac­u­late taste, the plethora of po­ten­tial routes can leave one a lit­tle spoilt for choice. Their mag­pie eyes scan­ning wildly, they junk the dusty garage gear that launched their ca­reer and re­draw their Year Zero as 1979, specif­i­cally the point where Gary Nu­man and his Tube­way Army fired up their syn­the­siz­ers and aimed Are ‘Friends’ Elec­tric? at an un­sus­pect­ing sin­gles chart. There are syn­the­siz­ers all over V, The Hor­rors’ fifth full-length, but the group aren’t just cop­ping Nu­man’s icy throb (though the al­bum’s ex­cel­lent opener Holo­gram is def­i­nitely the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery). Greed­ily draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from decades of imag­ined fu­tur­ism, V looks to­wards the early ’80s dawn of synth-pop, the writhing squelch of Björk’s Army Of Me (an­other in­spired filch wo­ven into Holo­gram), the brash ki­net­ics of elec­tro­clash, even the in­fer­nal throb and wub of EDM. But, as ever with The Hor­rors, the cat­a­logue of their in­spi­ra­tions is never as im­por­tant as what they do with them, and for much of V, it’s in the ser­vice of grand, windswept melan­cho­lia, heart-wracked and slaked with en­nui. Even its bolder, brawnier mo­ments – like Ma­chine, a dirty, sexy dance­floor banger that should make in­die clubs in­fin­itely more ap­peal­ing – are pos­sessed of a dark­ness, an in-the-shadow-ofthe-bomb he­do­nism/ni­hilism di­chotomy that seems apt in this dystopia of Trump and Brexit; if

you’ve no hope then there’s no harm in an apoca­lyp­tic hang­over. World Be­low’s over­driven mod­ern-world blues is all rub­bery low-end jud­der and shiny sur­faces, col­laps­ing into a thrilling – nay, invit­ing – self­de­struc­tive noise­out. It’s the ‘bal­lads’, for want of a better term, that pro­vide V’s de­fin­i­tive high­lights, Faris Bad­wan’s world-weary croon evok­ing the lived-in tex­tures of the young Scott Walker or Efterk­lang’s Casper Clausen. Weighed Down is stun­ning, a seven-minute epic of com­plex long­ing, Bad­wan singing, “Don’t let love bring you down”, over a pro­duc­tion that takes the slith­er­ing, eerie disquiet of Roxy Mu­sic’s Avalon and sets it to wall-shak­ing beats. The closer, Some­thing To Re­mem­ber Me By is an­other tri­umph, a soupçon of Once In A Life­time to its rest­less synth bus­tle, a lit­tle of New Or­der’s light­ness of touch leav­en­ing its bruised ro­man­ti­cism. The track has a widescreen poignancy per­fect for movie sound­tracks, and there’s a clar­ity, an am­bi­tion and a con­fi­dence to V that sug­gests the al­bum might drag The Hor­rors from cultish con­cern to gen­uine pop star cross­over. More to the point, The Hor­rors’ al­chem­i­cal sticky-fin­gered raid through the ’80s

closet de­liv­ers some of the most thrilling, most sub­stan­tial pop you’ll hear all year.

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