What exactly was it about The Horrors that made people recoil in erm, horror after the bluster around their first album had subsided? 2007's 'Strange House' was far from a terrible debut; in fact, the Southend band's biggest faux-pas was to sidle up to their heroes a little too closely for comfort, leaving little room to make their own original mark.
Fast-forward two years, and suddenly it's cool to like the misfit quintet again. OK, having a stellar second album helps, and when you've got Portishead's Geoff Barrow and experimental director Chris Cunningham tending the production desk, bonus points are inevitably clocked up. The biggest difference between 'Strange House' and 'Primary Colours', however, is not in the quality of their songs, but that the latter is consistently attention-grabbing for its duration. The abundance of sonic layers prevalent on each track are so creepy and well-arranged that it's difficult to switch off.
Atmosphere is also an important factor here: 'Three Decades', 'New Ice Age' and 'Mirror's Image' are heavy on bass, spacey organs and murderous squalls of guitars, while the excellent 'Scarlet Fields' parts the heavy drapes of shoegaze and raw feedback to give Faris Badwan's theatrical murmur room to sprawl.
It's closer 'Sea Within a Sea' that's perhaps the most impressive track, though. Its echoey shuffle pays homage to the '60s punk and garage bands that The Horrors clearly adore, yet its seamless transition into a disembodied, psychedelic '80s synthfest is both clever and captivating. A 'surprising' comeback? Only if you bought into the initial distracting hypefest.