The Horrors - Strange House
Hair bigger than three vertically-stacked Tina Turners (circa. 1986), jeans so skinny that they're bordering on indecent and more make up than a Mac advert; it must be The Horrors. This supposedly-ghoulish Southend quintet have had more column inches devoted to them than they've had studio time, and that was before they'd even signed a major deal - albeit largely due to their singular sartorial style (last seen in the charts with The Adams Family theme tune). The latest product of the NME hype machine, The Horrors are actually a lot less horrible than they'd have you believe. Both lead singer Faris Badwan and bassist Tomethy Furse are alumni of the exclusive Rugby school (not that that's a sleight on their horridness) and the other three members are deceptively intelligent, despite their shabby appearances (guitarist Joshua von Grimm has a BsC in Physics and constructs his own guitar pedals.) Backgrounds aside, however, this is a band whose music is as dark as their name suggests. Strange House is a cluster of short, sharp goth-punk combustions, which indubitably gets rather samey after the first seven tracks, but remains relatively enjoyable to the last. Jack the Ripper, a Screaming Lord Sutch cover, is a purposefully-paced trudge that explodes into a mass of feedback-soaked yelps; the superbly dizzy Count in Fives' organ whirl/shuddering guitars combo is addictive, while Excellent Choice's art-rock/Spaghetti Western soundtrack over a sinister poetry recitation is nowhere near as pretentious as it sounds. The piece-de-resistance, however, is most certainly breakthrough single Sheena Is A Parasite - a song that buzzes, snarls and erupts in a squeal of a guitars, organs and most probably, human flesh. It may not be as strange as they'd imagine it to be, and Badwan's vocals are undeniably derivative - sometimes alluding to an Ian Curtis/Johnny Rotten fusion, and at others, sounding uncannily close to Mark E. Smith's clipped tones - but Strange House is a debut album that's certainly far from Horrific.
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