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Arts and Culture

The Horrors, the Horrors

When greatness strikes a mediocre band.

By Adrian Mack 14 Jul 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Adrian Mack contributes a regular music column to The Tyee and frequently sits behind Rich Hope.

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The Horrors -- hey, at least they don't look like poseurs.

The Horrors are one of those bands that consistently disappoint. How's that for a pitch? OK, let's try again. Once in the while, the Horrors manage to make you forget just how mediocre they really are. Maybe that isn't any more encouraging, but here's the thing. When they do prevail, it's monstrously good, or at least monstrously memorable, in the same way that "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" by the very, very mediocre bordering on just plain shitty Flock of Seagulls is memorable.

Or think perhaps of Stone Temple Pilots, an utterly detestable gang of fame-at-any-cost journeymen who persisted against all odds in putting out some of the best singles of the '90s. These bands all fall into a type. They're genre parasites who briefly achieve some sort of cosmetic stasis with the host. Look around these days and you see the same thing with junior Arcade Fire try-hards like the flatulently named Airborne Toxic Event. Remember when everybody was losing their poop over "Sometime Around Midnight"?

The Horrors, meanwhile, are one of those British flavours of the moment who appeared magical and fascinating enough to get some ink from the NME. They capitalized on the attention with a single in 2007 that actually did some justice to all the hype (notwithstanding that the Chris Cunningham directed video might have inflated the value of "Sheena Is a Parasite" by more than a smidge).

But "Sheena" was a spasm of brilliance. "Sea Within a Sea" from Primary Colours in 2009 crystallized the underlying problem with a riveting video that gilded the band's fickle second album love affair with Neu and Spacemen 3, but still barely papered over the lack of substance. You feel kind of cheated by the end of it, since the song itself is a bunch of good beginnings with no middle, no end, and no money shot.

Still, we're going to give the Horrors the benefit of the doubt, yet again, because "Still Life," from newest album Skying -- whatever the hell that means -- is all money shot. It's also further evidence that the Horrors are nothing but damned poseurs, since this year's thing for the U.K. band is portentous, Psychedelic Furs vintage synth pop. But at least they're superior damned poseurs. A stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, and all that.  [Tyee]

Read more: Music

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