The Horrors – Primary Colors – Album Reviews

Written by on March 23, 2024

The Horrors – Primary Colours – Album Review by Joshua Reedy from Blue Cadet-3


My copy: 2009 pressing by XL Recordings.

Hitting the ground running with their take on post-punk revival by way of grimey garage-rock, England’s Horrors explore deeper sonic flavors through the electronic pulse of Primary Colours. While their conceptual sound isn’t as original as the outlets would have most believe, The Horrors do manage to bring the synthesizer back to the forefront of their goth-pop sound, with a tacked on Ian Curtis vocal impression that brings little to the table.

Stirring in atmosphere first, then revealing plowing rhythmic noise against repeated synth melodies, “Mirror’s Image” is a convincing first step with dramatic vocals that actually tie warring moods together nicely. “Three Decades” swelters in a bleak haze, crying out not unlike early My Bloody Valentine – proving a stronger sense for texture than structure and form. The bright vibrato synth motifs of “Who Can Say” are perhaps their most obvious pastiche of New Order (second only to the anthemic “Primary Colours”), working well with fuzzed-out bass in spite of a corny spoken-word bridge.

Sirens sound across the wailing guitar chatter of “Do You Remember” which further distorts Cure-esque rhythms under goth-rock yelping. “New Ice Age” is perhaps their most interestingly written song with exotic scales rising in fury and urgency across deranged effects – matching the rabid call of the vocals nicely. Their least effective moments stop at the inclusion of warbled keys – as if too obviously stating “we’re different from your typical post-punk” (while songs like “Scarlet Fields” fall into just such a designation). “I Only Think Of You” drones on a bit too long but occasionally works as an updated take on Joy Division-meets-Velvet Underground with uncanny strings adding to the desolate vibe.

The relatively manic “I Can’t Control Myself” borrows again from shoegaze/goth fusion greats (Siouxie, Lush, etc.) to erect driving grooves. They clearly revere Bauhaus though the core writing style is a bit too conventional to elevate their predecessor’s output. Main single “Sea Within A Sea” is also the longest available song, rising steadily and borrowing from Kraftwerk or a sedated Devo to produce a danceable synthwave jam session.

The Horrors prove that their bark is louder than their bite with Primary Colours – which offers fantastic and creative sounds at the cost of structural originality. They have a knack for working a twisted charm into otherwise hostile songs – though this gimmick is done better by the bands they are playing off of. It may be easy to pick on a record like Primary Colours, but it is still a worthwhile offering for fans of brooding, melodramatic new-wave.



More from Joshua Reedy…

Current track