Hard to find a photo that doesn’t make Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster look like a group of dudes who saw The Cure and thought it looked like an easy way to make a living. I had the mild displeasure of reviewing their third album last year, it was okay but their first two albums were stellar; dark and bassy, sort of gothic but fast-paced in a way that sounded like completely unhinged, deranged fun. In 2010 before the release of their third album, Noel Fielding called their debut the best album of the decade, which was unsurprising to hear because of how their influence was on display in The Mighty Boosh (cf. “Psychosis Safari”, “Nanageddon”). In contrast, their third album was disappointing. Nothing leapt off the album and throttled me in the sinister, menacing way of their earlier work, they’d abandoned their gothic garb for some sort of quasi Kings of Leon chic with fucking cowboy hats and, like Kings of Leon, had sacrificed what distinguished them for broader appeal.
Now everybody is talking about The Horrors latest album Skying and it seems like the same thing is happening. The Horrors got one step further than Eighties Matchbox and actually starred in an episode of The Mighty Boosh as “The Black Tubes”, a band whose lead singer the gang murders to arrange for Vince to take his place. Sorry Faris Badwan, you look good in a Hawaiian shirt. The Horrors also have two stellar albums: Strange House, also quite gothic but more dance-y, includes songs about the Whitechapel murders, and Primary Colours which was quite a lot different but did exactly what a second album is meant to do in extending a band’s range without alienating their core audience and solidifying them as talented and not just one-hit wonders. And then Skying. Maybe I need more time with it… yeah, I definitely should give it more time, but I can at least say that just like Eighties Matchbox’s third album, I’ve had no strong reaction to it at all. It’s enjoyable in an entirely bland way, the total opposite to that which they’ve been in the past.
Tom just wrote this very good piece on Great British Rock Albums casting The Horrors in with bands I never expected nor wanted them to be tied in with. The Verve? Manic Street Preachers? Fucking Snow Patrol? Listening to Skying the comparisons become totally, painfully apparent. He’s perfect explained my disappointment. The Horrors have been such a charismatic and compelling act, but now I’m worried they’re being killed by the allure of the arena show. The last thing we need is another successful, boring, soulless rock band, spawned from the husk of genuinely exciting musicians.