The British goth-glammers The Horrors pulled a disappearing act for the last few years, but they have returned to slay the crowds for a two-night run at Williamsburg’s Rough Trade to pop off their tour in support of their new album, V. We caught the first of the two shows on Monday night, and it proved to be the kind of show that shows how rock shows can be inspirational and elevating to the spirit and the soul.
Brooklyn’s haunting noise-rockers Russian Baths opened the show with a set of blistering art rock that blew us all to kingdom come. Their music shivers with oscillating and quivering vocals that erupt out of the deepest of blues with thunderously shattering riffs and intense rhythmic onslaughts that can leave you awestruck. Like the Sirens of legend, the band’s dueling guitarists Luke Koz and Jess Ress rock out while facing one another across their traversing mics whilst taking turns fronting, harmonizing, and beckoning you to come swooning into their smooth vocals. That is, until the rhythm section of Evan Gill Smith and Jeff Widner come out of nowhere to crash you straight into those deadly rocks. There are definitely some strong musical influences afoot with these cool cats, namely some abstract retro-futurism of the Swirlies, with blistering raw garage barrages of Bleeding Rainbow, a bit of the shoegazy space rock of Slowdive, a lot of the wall of noise pop that is My Bloody Valentine, as well as many other rock spirits that are conjured. This is certainly a band to watch out for, because if they sneak up on you, you may have to cry bloody murder.
Then the neo-gothers The Horrors came out onto an appropriately dark and smoky stage to hack and slash the packed house with their special concoction of gruesome gloom and doom. I have been a fan of this band from their first aggressively dark album Strange House in 2007, but their style evolved greatly with their second album, Primary Colours, in 2009, due in no small amount to the overwhelming sonic mastery of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow in the Eno-eque producer’s seat. From that point on, their sound began to take a journey through thick and lushly lurid atmospheres, psychedelic soundscapes, and menacingly alien and abstract sound art. Their main influence is still undoubtedly those darker baritones of Joy Division and Bauhaus, the garage punk of Cramps and Misfits, and the new wave of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Cure. The new stuff they played in this pre-tour stage is a little more rock, in a groovy, yet still goth and glam way. Paul Epworth was the new producer, and he is best known for pop acts like Adele, Rihanna, and Maxïmo Park, which may explain some of the heightened catchy groove, but his work with bands like Bloc Party, Interpol, New Order, and Nine Inch Nails also have clearly shown that he also knows how to slay and make a killing doing it.
Faris Badwan still has the one of emo-ist brooding onstage frontmen personas in the rock world, as he rocked his greatest straight-up mod-loving Noel Fielding Mighty Boosh impression of all time, perfect for his close-up in Cheek-bone magazine. Meanwhile, Rhys Webb has one of the chillest bassface dances I’ve seen anywhere as those hellishly deep basslines just make you wanna move your body. In my opinion, nothing can send chills through the soul like Joshua Hayward’s guitar playing. Their far too short setlist did largely center on new stuff, and included nothing from their debut, but did still hit their high points and was overall a devilishly good time.
Article: Dean Keim