The Horrors (UK): Coffin' Joe, Joshua Von Grimm, Kenneth "Spider Webb" Rice , Tomethy Furse, Faris Badwan.
A lot of the Horrors' appeal and the almost viral spread of their popularity in the U.K. is due to their visual flair. Their look is a hybrid of big-haired, black-on-black goth, punk, and mod that could very well be the missing link between the Addams Family and emo. Likewise, the video for their single "Sheena Is a Parasite" -- which was the first clip video auteur Chris Cunningham directed in years -- further honed their equally stylish, scary, and witty image. Even without the eye candy, their music holds up well; this self-titled EP, which collects the songs from their U.K. singles from spring and summer 2006, is a very entertaining snapshot of their high-style horror-punk. Based on these five songs, the Horrors know the roots of their look and sound backward and forward, which is why their riff on it manages to be pretty convincing. And, just as their image mixes and modernizes different eras, their sound incorporates shockabilly, '60s garage rock, '50s and '60s novelty, and slightly more straightforward punk like the Stranglers and the Damned. Faris Badwan is a potentially great punk vocalist; he rasps and snarls, but somehow you can make out all (or at least most) of what he's screaming about. Meanwhile, Spider Webb's Vox Continental organ squeals like it's being tortured. The Horrors features two loving covers of songs by quintessential British eccentrics: an increasingly violent version of "Crawdaddy Simone," which was originally done by the '60s freakbeat weirdos the Syndicats and produced by visionary sound-shaper Joe Meek, and "Jack the Ripper," a tribute to London's infamous serial killer by early shock rocker Screaming Lord Sutch (who also benefited from Meek's spooky production skills). The band's original songs show that they're on their way to becoming as creepy and catchy as their influences. "Death at the Chapel" is a rave-up that would sound equally revved up in the '60s or the 2000s, but the Horrors are at the peak of their powers on "Sheena Is a Parasite," which switches between tightly wound verses and shambolic blasts of organ and guitar, all pinned down by Coffin Joe's rapid-fire drums. The Horrors' arty, borderline campy music probably sounds best in small doses, and considering that their shows often last less than 20 minutes, EPs like this one just might be the best way to experience them on record. ~ Heather Phares
Beginning as a big-haired, black-clad, garage-punk outfit and soon morphing into something more experimental, the Horrors emerged at a time when most U.K. acts were following the angular, abrasive template established by the Arctic Monkeys, the Futureheads, and their ilk. The band's full-length debut, Strange House, arrived in 2007, but for 2009's Primary Colours, the band worked with director Chris Cunningham and Portishead's Geoff Barrow as co-producers, opting for a very different sound that mixed shoegaze, post-punk, and goth; the album was released by XL that spring and earned several critical raves, including NME's Album of the Year. The Horrors self-produced their follow-up, 2011's Skying, which featured a lighter yet still atmospheric sound. ~ Heather Phares
Alternative Press (p.206) - "These scrappy rockers from Southend, England are spreading their brand of spooky garage-pop with the quickness of the plague."