The Horrors
Strange House

Reviewed by: Nick Southall
Reviewed on: 2007-03-15

Posted 03/15/2007 - 07:45:45 AM by meatbreak:
 Ready? Thought not. Have you seen this band? Thought not. Gay Dad? You did well to remember them, and this is NOT the same thing in the slightest. Cliff Jones was a music journalist who used his connections to bump himself up the hype-ometer into the public conscious. The Horrors pretty much got all the attention they deserved from their ferociously noisy, pitch black gigs. Which were amazing and probably still are. There's some presence to this band, especially on stage, and they've done well to get it down on this record too. Don't be so predictably reactionary and write them off. Are you seriously telling me that Count In Fives, Gloves and Sheena don't have gnarly, gritty hooks? The organ sounds in this are great, really dark and sinister - not in a showy glammy way either, just black and nasty. The new version of Jack the Ripper works really well, starting off slowly stalking and groping around before blasting out full speed at the end. Good way to start an album with such a a morbid statement of intent and atmospheric setting. Does it matter if it's a cover? Not really, no. How much more violent do you want your music without it being metal...or produced by Steve Albini? Seems to me that you've reviewed this band on the strength of a lot of media clippings and half an ear cocked toweard the stereo. Sure, you can dislike it but most of this review is disposing of NME tags and broadsheet hyperbole. I love the way this site gives lots of great stuff an A or B+ or whatver, without once mentioning that it stands sod all chance of geting anywhere near a top 100 chart placing, but at the same time, will use this bands #37 placing as a kind of signifier that they are shit. It's like saying "See! This hyped band can't get to number one. Ha! We've never mentioned them before, but we told you they're shit!". It makes no sense at all.

My point is? This band is exciting and dark, they make a horrific noise and all look dead fucking sexy in the process. I'm not saying this deserves an A or anything like it, just that this is an album well worth checking out and far more so that the D+ and the possibly spiteful, possibly ignorant review would attest to.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 08:04:26 AM by NickSouthall:
 A; I've not said anywhere that they're "shit".

B; This is really not a "horrific noise". Heard the Acoustic Ladyland album? Makes this sound like Bon Jovi. If this is violent we've fallen a long way.

C; No I've not seen them live, which is why I've not reviewed them live! How good or bad a band are live has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of their record, which, in this instance, a D+ grade, is "OK". D- would equate to "poor" and F to "abysmal".

D; Um, I don't mention that "Jack The Ripper" is a cover either, so why are you taking issue with me taking issue with that when I don't take issue with it? (Reason I don't mention it is because I don't image many of Stylus' readership will be aware of Screaming Lord Sutch.)

E; Yes a bulk of the review is disposing of tags and hyperbole - that's what The Horrors are defined by and as the musical content of the album didn't interest me overly after a handful of listens it was the most interesting thing to write about.

If you find them dark and exciting, that's great! All power to your elbow. I dont. Be thankful Dom didn't fight me for the review!
Posted 03/15/2007 - 08:51:33 AM by smwynne:
 I took one look at these clowns and KNEW that they sucked ass. Right on, Nick. 99% of the shit that NME throws on a cover is garbarge.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 09:17:36 AM by karldudley:
 Another predictable review of an NME-hyped band from Stylus (following Klaxons, The View, Kaisers etc). This is getting really boring guys. We get it, you don't like the NME bands. It shouldn't annoy but I hate to see a decent band getting panned for no reason other than the reviewer attempting to boost his pretentious music loving credentials. Come on, I love LCD, Paddy Wolf, Deerhoof etc as much as the next guy, but I also think there's a place for the likes of The Horrors and The View (especially The View, their debut is fucking awesome!). Alas, I'm turned off Stylus even more. I'd recommend heading over to PlayLouder, as they host the most unpretentious review of this album your likely to read. I'd don't agree with it fully, but it sure is a more entertaining read than this drivel!
Posted 03/15/2007 - 10:05:35 AM by J_R_K_:
 if an NME band got a good review no one would read the comment section.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 10:05:50 AM by blackrooster:
 These guys are certianly bad enough to laugh at when they play live. Particular highlight when the lead singer wanted to jump into the crowd and asked repeatedly for the crowd to move apart so he could jump into them, crowd didn't move, he looked very sad that he couldn't show how r&r; he was by jumping in to them. Then a few weeks later they are featured on the front of NME as the most extreme band to ever exist. At least they aren't a libertines rip off with northern accents though.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 11:33:31 AM by mpatton:
 This review was written for someone that has heard the band. I have never heard of them (I'm from the US) and I have no idea what they sound like.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 11:46:53 AM by NickSouthall:
 That's an interesting point, mpatton, but I'm not sure it's entirely valid in 2007. Firstly, the (admittedly cursory) description "big, lumbering gothic bass and drums topped with spirals of neo-psychedelic guitar, repetitive organ riffs, and shouting" fits pretty much every song in terms of basic aesthetic. Secondly, and most importantly, you're reading this review online, which means that you are able, within moments, to have downloaded or streamed a track or tracks from this record, either in exchange for money or for free, in order to sample it and see what you think. Failing that, you could walk into a record shop and ask the staff if you could listen to it for a few moments. No one reading a review of a record like The Horrors, especially online, needs to be deaf to what it sounds like.

Nevertheless, your point stands, and I shall heed it in future perhaps.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 12:36:18 PM by meatbreak:
 Hahaha - Maybe I am glad that Dom didn't review this - though I guess a 'hatchet job' would be entirely in keeping with the Horrors goulish nature. Hmmm...Here's my replies:

A: As far as most people are concerned, a D implies 'shit'. I'm not totally keen on grading stuff, but that's my problem, though I do think the D reflects the tone of your review, i.e., pretty poor show which I have to wholeheartedly disagree with. This is not a bad album by any stretch.

B: Yes, I've heard the Acoustic Ladyland album. It's pretty good, but not dark, fast or noisy enough by half - and not really like I was imagining after your review. Fortunately, it was also a great improvement on their last album. This album is pretty noisy, can you really deny that? Not horrific in a black metal way, or violent like Violent Students (Whose Headbanger EP pretty much epitomises 'feral scree') but they're still skanky and filthy nonetheless.

C: C and E run together for me. If you are content to review this in the context of the tags this band have been given, you will be having to wade through lots of stuff about their live shows as opposed to recorded output - You do even mention the 'near riot' at one of their gigs. Seriously, this band are great live, slightly comic, but not at the expense of themselves (though blackroosters comment suggests otherwise, but that's a kind of a common scene with young bands). Theirs is a sound that needs to be pinned down accurately on record or it's not worth bothering with studio time. To say that how a band performs in the flesh has no bearing on their recorded output is just wrong Mr Southall. Acres of pages have been printed about the relationship between Stage Show Vs. Record and this is one band that was in danger of not translating well on to disc. Why is it that Bloc Party's new album sounds so bad? They don't sound like that on stage, and if 'Weekend In The City' sounded anything like the live versions it would be a far more satisfying listen. I think Strange House is well produced and captures a lot of the spirit of their shows, plus the sound of those vocals is approaching Grishnak territory and those shrieks crossing over into the mainstream is something I’m all for.

D: I didn't mean that I had an issue over mentioning ‘Jack the Ripper’ was a cover, I was just saying. Although, since when has referencing something obscure ever stopped any Stylus writer before? If all people wanted was to read about stuff they already knew, the whole thing would wind down to a grinding halt pretty quickly. You should give your readers more credit.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 12:49:04 PM by NickSouthall:
 From bitter experience I'd say that the Bloc Party album was a damnsite WORSE live than on CD. Most of your points are pretty salient and I bow to them, but I still think a record review is a record review and a live review is a live review. Sadly we don't really deal with the latter.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 01:50:42 PM by Brooon:
 they allegedly only got on the alleged cover of NME because they allegedly paid for it. allegedly. I agree that a record review should not take into account live performance, only what is audible from the record.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 03:06:35 PM by meatbreak:
 Well how do you think a band gets to the point of being able to record an album without any live performances?
Posted 03/15/2007 - 03:07:05 PM by septimus:
 I totally agree with Nick, ratings-wise anyway; they look like a cross between early Marilyn Manson and Ramones, and retread the same old "shock-rock" stock schtock to no real effect. It's not big, not clever and although there are a couple of half-decent tunes on there it seems like it hasn't been thought through properly. Another flash in the pan record from some slickly marketed style over substance merchants. Nowhere near as good as early Misfits! Classic.
Posted 03/15/2007 - 11:03:47 PM by :
 Between the review & the comment lies the opinion fornicating with both feedback & feedforward. In this case Meatbreak`s disintenuated his love of noisy goth over a barrage of vivid delusion. Contrapuntally the reviewer`s express reaction to dislocate his syntax under certain reviewer`s privileges has led to a diural vacancy of critical objection, or even rejection, in the case of his referencing Screaming Lord Sutch. Our man Brooon indulges their invagary juxtaposition with what I guess is his version of extrosarcasm resulting in a less than satisfying dripfeed of commenter`s oscillatory observations. This fornicatory swingback results in an ablution of the Horrors` spiritual impropriety; as one who is interested I am left with an ancillary disgust. Were it that Septimus`s `total agreement` to be undermined as less trivial than whatever other bands got reviewed today, I might even have something intellectual to offer this otherwise febrile discourse.
Posted 03/17/2007 - 03:57:38 PM by DeathCharon:
 OK, I have seen them here in Brooklyn. They are a boring 3rd-rate Cramps. I've seen the Cramps 3 times and The Horrors are no where near that level of performance. Another fact; the guitar player was at my friend's loft the next day, where he spent most of his time trying to get his hair to stand-up just right. Just some young, lucky, nice kids. That is all. These are no Misfits.