With all of Skying’s near-countless references to water, it’s best to think of the album as water: fluid and mutable; roaring and gushing one moment, lapping and tranquil the next; a river that runs into a sea, but is ultimately all of one substance.
The metaphor certainly helps to assuage the slight disappointment that on Skying, without denying the band retains their full talent for musicianship and melody, The Horrors are less horrible than we’re used to and more complacent, static, and safe. Sometimes it’s a bit like listening to a monster purr after being lulled to sleep.
This last image makes sense of the intensely dreamy quality of the album’s ten tracks. Faris Badwan’s twice-dubbed voice echoes off of thick, endless, looping walls of sound, heavy reverb and distortion rendering those walls blurred and nebulous.
Traces of the younger Horrors can still be found, most noticeably in “I Can See Through You” and “Monica Gems”, that desperate, raucous mood prevailing despite the lack of psychobilly shrieks and punk rhythms.
And then, at the album’s worst, songs can run together, or individual songs run on.
The band seem content to establish a memorable refrain, but then frustrate by letting it repeat without shifts in tone or momentum, allowing the sound to dominate. But frankly, a cynical eye could view The Horrors’ entire new sound concept as a Madchester rip-off.
The Horrors have consistently proven they deserve more respect than their Robert Smith rat’s nests and emo-kid skinnies might lead you to believe. Their wonderfully mature sophomore effort Primary Colours ensured them the right to more respect than half the acts out there today.
But, they should be careful that in their quest to mature further, they not water themselves down.
Download: “Endless Blue”, “Still Life”