Names can be deceiving. In spite of their moniker, The Horrors are about as terrifying-sounding as a hot bath or a warm shower (which post-Psycho still might be scary for some). The band also isn’t light and effervescent enough to be described as Luminous, the title of its fourth full-length record. The weight, depth, and density the British rockers imbue their electronic dreamscapes with are qualities that perhaps cannot be labeled tritely or limited to a few ambiguous adjectives.
Even if The Horrors decline to articulate their sonic ethos through their titling, the band seems well aware of its place in a musical lineage. Borrowing heavily from seminal bands like The Stone Roses and Spiritualized, The Horrors specialize in stretching influences to meandering, melodic ends. The squealing shoegaze of “Jealous Sun” is a direct descendant of My Bloody Valentine. And yet, in that song and elsewhere, The Horrors feel less murky (and more diluted) than their predecessors.
Luminous is richly wrought and produced. Lead vocalist Faris Badwan (known for onstage antics perhaps closer to actual horror than his music) croons with ethereal detachment as his cohorts push arrangements toward a certain drugged bliss. The Horrors’ artful, semi-progressive synthrock occasionally lulls and dulls, but it mostly mesmerizes in a way more conventional bands using similar techniques (such as Muse) fail to. Though Luminous never blazes brightly, it does bear a soft glow that many will find entrancing.