The Horrors burst on to the UK indie rock scene in 2007 with Strange House, a garage rock debut which turned heads. With V, they have carved themselves out a unique brand of arena rock, tinged with goth and psychedelia. It helps breathe life back into their discography while also sounding refreshing for an ailing indie rock scene.
V is grand in its scope and is undoubtedly their most euphoric and ambitious project to date. Facets of their previous releases that sounded promising are evident and are fused beautifully on V. We hear melodic hooks over abrasive yet refined synth patches and fuzzy guitar riffs indicative of their shoegaze influences. The energy of the guitars and power-pop fusions with synths bring Everything Everything’s recent works to mind.
Lead vocalist Faris Badwan is newly invigorated, sounding more world-weary than ever. His songwriting seemingly more suited to less brash and more refined instrumentals. His lyrics are open-ended as ever and do lack a certain direction and purpose at times but his delivery somewhat compensates.
The album’s best run of tracks are its three openers: “Hologram”, “Press Enter to Exit” and “Machine”. Lead single “Machine” is a massive anthemic rock song with Badwan sounding despondent but undeniably hopeful in the face of an increasingly mechanised and robotic world. Led by swirling background guitar work, the track is only bettered in terms of intensity by opener “Hologram”. It’s clear the band are aiming higher with their latest effort and “Hologram”‘s gripping distorted riffs are underscored by Badwan’s melancholic vocals. He juxtaposes our existence with wavy synths and increasingly tense guitars as Badwan repeats, “Are we hologram? Are we vision?”
“Highlight Point of No Reply” sounds like a Future Islands ballad on acid as we see Badwan lament over an ex, “Throwing knives with an eye for revenge // Tell your friends I hit you”. He has let discontent fester and feels smothered, the eerie synths and less explosive percussion and guitars help create the uneasy and apprehensive atmosphere of a toxic relationship.
The album’s titanic synth-pop closer “Something To Remember Me By” brings everything back around. The almost 7 minute long disco odyssey is unlike most of the Horror’s catalogue but it’s also a distinctively Horror’s song – powerful, intimately dark and somewhat haunting. It draws the album to a soothing close and marks a new era for a band forever shadowed by their hype for almost a decade. It seems as if they are finally justifying expectations that many bestowed upon their shoulders and not just that, but becoming a force to be reckoned with.