The Horrors Strange House, 2007, Loog Records
Jack the Ripper
Count in Fives
She is the New Thing
Sheena is a Parasite
A Train Roars
Death at the Chapel
From the Essex seaside town of Southend, gothic rockers The Horrors formed in 2005. Strange House was their debut album. It’s very different in sound and style from their later, more well-known work.
The opening track, a cover of "Jack the Ripper "is a weak start, it’s very much just screaming. "Count in Fives" is a bit more fun, everyone likes a song about numbers, don’t they? "Draw Japan" has some really great guitar work and will make you want to move. Gloves has great work from the rhythm section as well as the guitars, it’s the best song so far. "Excellent Choice" is a surprise, there is a definite Blur vibe to the spoken word part of it. There’s a touch of the music hall about "Little Victories" with the use of the organ really coming to the fore. It’s an interesting way to mix things up a bit. "She Is the New Thing "is probably The Horrors’ version of a love song. It’s a bit ponderous, but still one of the better tracks as the slightly slower pace works well. Single release "Sheena Is a Parasite" is fast and furious (literally as well as figuratively, the anger seems to seep out at you as you listen). It would certainly have been a good introduction to what this band were about at the time. "Thunderclaps" is interesting, the melody feels very much like something from an old Dracula film. "A Train Roars" is a strong track , the beat really catches your attention, it could have been a great ending to the album, but of course there is one more track "Death at the Chapel "and it’s a decent closer that thrashes along, leaving you out of breath by the end of it.
For me, this is not the best example of The Horrors’ work. There is too much focus on the screaming vocals and a lot of the songs seem to blur together which makes it hard to truly enjoy the album. The important thing about it though was that it was so different in style to the other alternative bands that were dominating the UK chart at the time. This is a long way from The Libertines or Franz Ferdinand. The fact that they were given the opportunity to release something so different and then evolve and change over time seems to show the London scene as a more nurturing place than I would have expected at this time.