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CD reviews

The Horrors

The Horrors

Luminous

(XL)

Listen again to the garage-goth novelty tunes, backed up by cartoonish costumes and Tim Burton imagery, of The Horrors' 2007 debut, Strange House, and you'll wonder how, seven years later, this quintet from Southend-on-Sea could possibly make one of the best, most rapturous, most intoxicatingly kaleidoscopic indie-rock albums of 2014.

To be fair, they pulled a U-turn on that early musical style with 2009's Primary Colours and refined it further on 2011's much-lauded Skying. But Luminous is the first album to completely encapsulate The Horrors' own style, with direct influences pushed into background textures and the box of past tricks left mostly unopened.

So what is that style? Well, at its core it remains psychedelic shoegaze married to a driving krautrock beat, with shimmering synths reinforcing the lighter approach of Faris Badwan's vocals these days. Sometimes it'll make the heart shudder to slowdive guitar chords (Jealous Sun, Mine And Yours); other times it'll sail close to pop music, with hands in the air rather than eyes on the ground (So Now You Know, Falling Star).

The sound is expansive, the attitude confident, the sensation often close to euphoric - particularly on seven-and-a-half-minute standout I See You, which annexes Morodor synths and heavy rock drums for an extended crescendo that's as thrilling as anything I've heard this year.

ALAN MORRISON

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