Strange House review by The Horrors

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  • Released: Mar 8, 2007
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (60 votes)
The Horrors: Strange House

Sound — 9
The Horrors are well known and talked about, mostly in the NME world, where their drainpipe and backcombed hair are the gossip of the indie villlage. But some people stop there. They fail to peer through the immaculately coiffured hair and see the superb example of the music. The style or genre is slightly ambiguous, with differnet opinions stating different things. The genres that come up are psychadelic, punk, garage punk, and zombie punk. But these alone are not a very fair explanation of what The Horrors are about. Their influences come rather heavily from the sixties psychadelic scene, Joe Meek for example. He is one of the main influences but one can't help but notice The Birthday Party or The Cramps shining through. It is a strange concotion. First off, the band leave an impression as to what they are about with a cover of Screaming Lord Sutch's Jack The Ripper. They have taken the central riff and turned it on it's head. It is a scary, atmoshpheric song, getting off to a zombie like march, when singer Faris Rotter's mournful story kicks off into a high pace breakdown as such, creating a hugely effective opener. The picks of the albums are clearly the singles; Sheena Is A Parasite and Count In Fives. The latter is something of a poppier number, something with poetential to dance to; Spider Webb's keyboard work, lapping superbly over Joshua Von Grimm's heavily distorted guitar whilst Rotter's bizzarre lyrics will bewilder and intrigue the listeners. Sheena Is A Parasite has enough intrigue in it before the song even starts. We'll start with the video. With legendary director Chris Cunningham in tow, the video starts with Oscar Nominee Samantha Morton writhing her head in a sort of circle, in the chorus lifting her dress to reveal blue entrails in a strobe light flash. The video is certainly startling and was subsequently banned by MTV for the use of strobes. The subject for the song is talking about American punk and how they view it. The lyrics aptly reflect this; "It's been twenty nine years since she came to these shores.", the name itself being taken from The Ramone's 'Sheena Is A Punk Rocker' and replacing Punk Rocker with Parasite, to reflect the band's feelings. It is certainly intresting if not a good peice of music. There are many other noticable tracks here as well, no tracks particularly feel as though they were filler, more that some are less noticalbe than others. One especially noticable track is 'Excellent Choice', in which the bass player narrates over Rotter's howling vocals, a story of Morgan and his resentment towards his family. It is a must hear, a very intriguing song. Moreover, it is a must hear album, wether you like their music or not, because it is so unusual. The style of dress, the influences are intresting enough to warrant a mere look, a type in on youtube will show you enough to get the idea. But there is so much into this album, it feels like a step back into the sixties, with Joe Meek or Screaming Lord SUtch but with a brilliant twist, a twist of something very different indeed. More likely than not this is guitarist and teenage heart throb Joshua Von Grimm, or Joshua Third as he is now known. His effects pedal has to be seen to be believed. When seen live, it appears to be ten large pedals woven together. And the sound certainly appears to be. His self built pedals change the sound to a multitude of feedback or a sophisticated, defined sound as seen in 'Gil Sleeping'. This may be the cause for the difference, it may not but it is one of the countless factors that make this band that litle bit differnet and definitely worth a listen.

Lyrics — 8
Faris Rotter is a very bizzarre character. A band I once spoke to who played with The Horrors described him as 'A bit anti social, he just drew in his little book.' This seems to sum up the lyric style nicely. Sheena Is A Parasite is merely quite clever and concise, but his lyrics to Count In Fives charter his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, when he was compelled to have everything in fives, which is a strange topic in itself, but Rotter's lyrics certainly do bemuse the uneducated. Death At The Chapel is about a young girl pop group who get attacked at a chapel by a maniac. Gloves deals with his other obsession, an obsession for collecting singular gloves. Excellent Choice as I have discussed, talks about Morgan and his resentment to his family and his subsequent suicide. All these give a very clear impression of Rotter's style of lyrics, his style being a different kettle of fish. His unique howl has been many the topic of criticism for people who don't like the style, but all it takes is a good listen, an open mind and you may find yourself saying, 'Well actually, this does work.'. Just as Serj Tankian works with System Of A Down, Faris Rotter works here, his mournful howling working very well, not what you'd expect, but a positive effect.

Overall Impression — 9
It is hard to compare The Horrors to anyone else becasue something like this hasn't really been done by a relevant artist for a long time. However this is debatable, by how you percieve The Horrors. A lot of people have drawn comparisons from them to Eighties Matchbox B Line Disaster, which is certainly understandable. The Eighties Matchbox B Line Disaster have more of a sophisticated, more mainstream appeal, wheras The Horrors are a bit more quirky, a bit more grimly unusual. Eighties Matchbox more like The Doors, The Horrors more like other sixties artists. They have been commonly described as similar to The Birthday Party and The Cramps. After hearing both, I think that it is less of the latter, but nevertheless never near sounding precisely like anything else, which is what makes the album and the band so intriguing and unique. The songs that stand out are the ones released on single, Sheena Is A Parasite, Gloves, Count In Fives and the unreleased Death At The Chapel. These are the more mainstream sounding songs but they are far from mainstream even here. The other songs are still extremely intruiging, and I suspect the reasons these better, mainstream songs were released is to ensnare the uncertain and uninitiated and make them buy the album, then get opened up into something new, which I think would certainly work. The thing I love most about the album, and I am repeating myself here is the overriding uniqueness about the album, the band and the lyrics, generally everything. It is been a good time, the 21st century for finding new sounds. System Of A Down's unique brand of metal, Klaxons bridging the gap between rave and rock and a growing popularity in the UK grime scene, and I think sounds like The Horrors will grow now, with his poetentially as a trailblazer. If there is anything I hate about this album, it would be that there are not enough tracks to satisfy a lust for more but that is a bit gushing. The one track here that perhaps does not really excite or satisfy is the instrumental 'Gil Sleeping' but in its' own right it is certainly a good tune. If I lost the album, I would perhaps not care, for I have all the music on my computer, but this is perhaps a little petulant. Supposing I only had the CD, I would certainly buy it again, because untill the upcoming second album, you are not going to hear something like this for a good while.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I saw them live last nov at the john peel night which was being filmed for bb3, with squarepusher and the raconteurs. They were seriously one of the funniest yet most exciting band ive seen one point Faris jumped into the pit and started smearing what looked like mud on people's faces, which made one woman near the front cry..was certainly one of the highlights of the night.
    I've been a fan for quite awhile and bought their cd right when I saw it. I love how different they are from every other band out there. The cd is great to throw in and blast while driving, you get a lot of weird looks.
    they sound like a cross between The Misfits and daft punk. yet i still havent worked out if that is a good thing yet lol.
    I discovered this band like a year and a half ago and I'm so glad they're getting exposure. Fantastic cd, in my opinion.
    Deek_13 wrote: Live, the experience is truely mind blowing. there the worst band ive seen by miles, ive seen them twice so it wasnt jsut a one off bad gig. They were shite, each one of them has the stage presance of a piece of cheese! the pedals are hardly hard to make, what he does is opens them up and randomly solders bits together any joe with half a brain and a soldering iron could do it!
    Stage presence of a peice of cheese aye? faris rotter climbed the roof and then some at both the times i say them, he was in the crowd more than the stage and was hard pushed to get back on, all in all good ****ing times
    lildrummerboy wrote: Do they need the makeup? Really? I love the artsy stuff, but a lot of it is just image, for instance: "The debut album by UK psychos Strange House is for you to decide if youre a weirdo, a freak or a turn this noise off person" shows they are trying to sell you an album solely because they are Goth (I was going to use different, but thats not true at all, different would be NOT wearing makeup). I do like the idea of an organ, and his own pedals, but you don't need the image, just go make some music.
    i guess they dont need it, the music is good enough, but it works for the band. every band with an image gets attention, and its the ones that can play good music that stick around because of that. they may drop the image if they keep it going a few years. or they could just like the hair and make up just like the cure.