Since emerging in 2007 with their goth-meets-garage rock début album, Strange House, English quintet The Horrors have been somewhat restless when it comes to their sound, with each subsequent release seeing the band shift tone. While the synth-heavy, five and six minute compositions of The Horrors’ fifth record, V, may seem a world away from the punkish guitars and brevity of Strange House, the two albums manage to clearly be the work of the same band, an effect that is strengthened when the morphing tones of the intervening records are considered.
V opens with the fat, fuzzed-out bass-line and askew synth melody of Hologram, courtesy of Rhys Webb and Tom Furse. Vocalist Faris Badwan croons his way through the track, while Joshua Third provides bursts of reverb-drenched guitar and Joseph Spurgeon ties everything together with his steady drumbeat. At six-minutes duration, and relying on minimal but repetitive lyrics and riffs, Hologram could easily have ended up too long by half, yet The Horrors manage to keep the song interesting and vital. The groove-oriented Press Enter to Exit feels like a mellow dance track overall, although the lightly-funked guitar pulls things in an indie direction.
Being a faultless song in its own right, Machine was an excellent choice as lead single as it provides an accurate encapsulation of sounds and vibe of V. The Horrors’ earlier predilection for gothic tones is revisited in the slow broodings of Ghost, while the eruption of synths and guitar at the halfway mark demonstrate the group’s flair for the dramatic. Deciding to go acoustic on Gathering is one of the few missteps on the album, as the change in tone stands out for the wrong reasons. With V stretching to nearly fifty-five minutes over its ten track run, it does start to feel a little overlong by the end, which is a shame as The Horrors otherwise delivered another solid release.