The Horrors have found themselves at a stylistic crossroad that offers only excitement for future releases.
The Horrors have always sought to shock and surprise. Starting out as a post-adolescent, louder than life goth-punk zit on the pretty face of landfill indie, their 2007 debut album Strange House paid homage to their influences (‘Sheena is a Parasite’, for instance) while also sticking up a middle finger to practically everything and everyone else around it. They were the alienated preachers to the frustrated inhabitants of a scene that had lost its edge years before.
More relaxed productions followed and popular attention was afforded to Paris Badwan and co. It wasn’t M.O.R. by any means, but seemed to signal that the band were there to protect their commercial and critical longevity. Lout, however, represents one of the most daring musical left turns seen for quite a few years.
It’s almost a given that the three tracks that make up Lout are going to turn off a large number of the shoegaze-meets-dream-rock fans of the 2010s. The chugging titular track sits between metal and punk yet is arguably the most mild-mannered of the trio. It’s a little one-dimensional in that Badwan is essentially calling and responding with the raucous hook, but stick it in a grotty venue and it’ll find its natural home and audience quite easily.
“How about some industrial dance, kids!?” inquire the band. “Pardon?”, you respond, by which point ‘Org’ has already commenced its destructive breakdown. There’s a difficulty in describing the absolute chaos that ‘Org’ possesses, by far the strongest and most confident track on the EP. It’s the bastard child of the unforgiving beats of industrial pioneer Patric Catani and Health’s more palatable (in only a relative sense) synth-punk, one for those who want to evacuate the room of the norms and empty the dancefloor.
‘Whiplash’ continues this theme but with guitar (heaven forbid) worked into the mix. Again, it works extremely well. Badwan’s vocals are drawling amongst a distorted cacophony of a pick ‘n’ mix of sounds which would be utterly repulsive for those unaccustomed to such soundscapes.
Lout seems both a step forward and a doff of the cap to the past for The Horrors. They’ve reclaimed their notorious ugliness, the unashamed disgust that defined their early work and set them apart from the rest, but now there’s more to ponder. More influences, more styles, more experimentation. Maybe the coming years will see them stake a shock claim at the clubs – Lout undeniably opens up plenty of new avenues for them to venture down, if they dare.