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Best of Boston 2009

The Horrors | Primary Colours

XL (2009)
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  May 6, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars

The new Horrors long-player is a throwback of some kind, but to what? Perhaps to a post-punk '80s that is alien to us John Hughes–weaned Yanks, where ersatz angst set to an Anglophile soundtrack is replaced by actual drudgery and nausea.

The Horrors, on their sophomore outing, consolidate their veddy British sense of cool around the notion of steady beats, icy synths, and limpid splattering glops of melting guitar. Vocalist Faris Badwan does at times wear out his welcome in a tuneless fashion redolent of the doldrums one would typically encounter deep into side two of a Psychedelic Furs LP. But who cares?

When this band hit it, they hit it hard, with lysergic drones that are peculiarly nihilistic and open-ended. The Horrors excel at evoking the mood of that moment when you're so high that you realize this whole thing is real and dangerous and that something horrible could happen — like the dripping dream chorus of "Scarlet Fields," with shape-shifting guitars sounding like something whizzing by you on a late-night highway.

Epic album closer "Sea Within a Sea" is the soundtrack to a wild party gone wrong, its motorik steadiness, spaghetti-western aridity, and squalling guitar stalling on a lock-grooved arpeggio before collapsing into off-the-rails lunacy. It's a fitting dénouement to a stunning paean to sadness and decay.
Related: Review: OMG/Hahaha, Steve Earle | Townes, On the Racks: May 15, 2007, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , CD reviews, John Hughes
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