Sound — 9
The Horrors. Five well-to-do young men from Southend On Sea, who decide to record their warped version of 60's garage on their first full album "Strange House". The Horrors, consisting of "Coffin" Joe Black (Drums), Rhys "Spider" Webb (Organ), Tom Furse (Bass), Joshua "Third" Hayward and Faris "Rotter" Badwan, have polarised opinion wherever they seem to go. Not only is the music a highly selective and focused type, but the Horrors have achieved attention through their radical image. Dressing in clothes that can only be described as a mix between Victorian Garb and 60's vintage, the Horrors add heaps of kohl eyeliner, and have brought back the popularity of big hair through the method of backcombing. The fact that the Horrors dressed like this before the band was created (to a certain extent) quickly dispels the notion that they are a supposedly "manufactured band". This album was completed in quick time, and was only delayed by the fact that singer Faris was attacked in the street near his home in Whitechapel, East London, which delayed the recording process. The Horrors worked with Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on this album, and as well as being credited as a co-producer, Nick also wrote "She Is The New Thing" with the band, as well as a future B-Side, "Sister Leonella". The Horrors cobble together all their musical inspiration to produce a hellishly fresh record which never lets up. Their initial sound is rooted in the garage rock of the Sonics, Cramps, 80's Matchbox B-Line Disaster, but they also take inspiration from heavier blues players. As Spider Webb has said "The sound of the Horrors is fundamentally punk in it's purest form, the idea that punk is the spirit of rebellion, whether that be rock n'roll or garage blues". However what sets apart the Horrors from so many bands today is the sheer energy you experience from listening to the album. While their earlier demos can certainly be called more raw, this album takes away none of the bite of earlier fierce recordings. It is Spider Webb's Hammond Organ which drives the whole record forward, whether he is locking in with the riff to create a heavy, bass, guitar, organ combo, or playing tunes independent of the rest of the band. The Horrors have created a record that is one of the best of modern times.
Lyrics — 9
Singer Faris Rotter is a highly artistic individual. He is currently on a drawing course at university, and designed all the art that is contained within the album sleeve. His lyrics are generally focused around the obsessive, paranoid elements of human nature. While in the hands of a different singer these macabre lyrics would often seem laughable, Faris pulls it off because you tend to believe that he's not actually joking about what he's singing about. While "Jack The Ripper" is a cover of a Screaming Lord Sutch song, it is the sort of song that you can imagine Faris himself penning. Particular lyrical highlights are "Draw Japan" "Little Victories" "A Train Roars".
Overall Impression — 9
At the moment, it would seem that modern British music is in a very healthy state. New bands seem to be breaking out all the time. However these bands all have a very similar sound to them, whereas the Horrors have transcended the UK indie sound, while still having a big fanbase within the scene. Surely a band which is polarising opinion like the Horrors must at least be applauded for daring to do something that some people will inevitably hate. Being a longtime Horrors fan, this album was not about the songs that had already appeared on an earlier demo, it was the newer recordings such as "Draw Japan" "Little Victories" "Thunderclaps" "A Train Roars" which really caught my attention. That said, for someone who is buying this album without having heard any of the early songs, this album is perfect. My only qualm with the entire album is the song "Jack The Ripper". While live this song is an energetic, fast-paced one, on record it seems sluggish and a little overlong. That said, this is an excellent album, if it were stolen I would be very annoyed, but undoubtably buy another one!