Primary Colours (XL Recordings)
Remember The Horrors as dandy-goths plying a near-comedic Hammer movie schtick with barely enough ability to hold a guitar, let alone play one? Then think again.
The former Jack the Ripper obsessives have reinvented themselves with a new look and, more importantly, a new sound - a new and far-improved sound. In fact, the sound is so good this CD has to be in line for album of the year. As volte-faces go, the sea-change in the Southend hipsters doesn't quite compare with David Bowie's transition from Ziggy to the Thin White Duke, but it's not far off, and an apt comparison.
Gone are the scratchy, thrashy punk guitars. In their place is a more languid, almost psychedelic sound, with hints of Bowie's Low and other Berlin albums. In places it's reminiscent of the Jesus and Mary Chain, in others more like Britpop pioneers Suede. Opener Mirror's Image is an effects-driven tour de force with a slow-burn intro that wallops the listener when the fearsome new sound finally sets in. Swirling guitars, eerie keyboard refrains and a hint of background techno beats courtesy of the producer, Portishead mainman Geoff Barrow, mark this as one of the most original albums in years.