The Horrors are ugly, noisy, limited in range and not terribly subtle. They anger old hands, who point to The Cramps and The Stooges and call them derivative. And isn’t that a great basis for rock and roll?! Who’d want music that was just beautiful, quiet, jack-of-all-trades and subtle. That sound like fun to you? Hell, no! And not to tip the hat to the old school (even if it is Screaming Lord Sutch!) would be to ignore forty years of rock history. And didn’t The Cramps borrow off hundreds of mondo-surf bands and The Stooges off The Troggs(!)?
Strange House is all thuddy and pumped up with organ and frantic drumming, spooky tempo changes and effects that belong on the ghost train at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The band have comedy names, ridiculous haircuts and keep turning the knobs up to 11, giving an exhaustingly noisy and busy ride for the ears. Well, as they’ve gone to the bother of assembling nearly every essential rock cliché, let’s give them a chance…..
The songs are as often as not, whiplash-driven bizzarro rock and roll, caught between the crazy posturing of the afore-mentioned Lord Sutch and the driven dementedness of Lux Interior and Poison Ivy (stupid names? Surely not!). Guitars get surf twangy, drums do the jungle beat, voices whisper, vocals declaim or scream and the bass keeps reaching for distortion. The record is peculiarly loud even when the volume is down and it’s a tiring listen (I think it’s had that new freaky mastering aural trick done to it) but who wants demented music as a dinner-party backdrop at pleasant volumes. This is one to play to your friends while you damage your body and brain with crazy ideas and possibly chemicals. Either that or jumping up and down, in company or alone (but pay attention for neighbours hammering on the walls… it takes control of the volume control). Played at the correct volumes this will damage your hearing and that of your street.
Wilfully out-there, daft, excessive, disreputable, OTT and thoroughly commendable, this is the dumbest, funnest record so far this year.