The Horrors - Count In Fives

Bill Cummings 30/10/2006

Rating: 1/5

The Horrors return with new single "Count In Fives" off the back of a clever PR campaign, some column inches and that image: the stylised goth/punk look taking its cues from Robert Smith and squeezing itself into art school drainpipes. Initially, it's striking in these times of unoriginal, faceless models with guitars, but what does it mean? Does it really amount to anything more than just a good (if slightly dated) style and a clever music marketing campaign? Is their music any more dangerous and interesting because they use three cans of hairspray to achieve that BIG hairstyle and apply eye shadow with a trowel? Even the early Manics had substance and bite to back up their often pretentious, situationalist rants and glam punk image.

The Horrors' sound is clearly enthral to the US psych punk bands of the 70's, as exhibited by a free compilation put together by the band. They claim they've an art rock heritage too but, save for the facts that one member attended art school, that they display a clear liking for modern art and abstract lyrical imagery, it's a claim I doubt after having heard their music.

"Count In Fives" feigns fast and furious punk aggression, but for all its bluster it sounds a limp, overly mannered riot of bar chords and screams. Like a Cramps B-side drained of any interest, the single's weedy guitars and pallid rhythm cry out for a bit of oomph, a bit of guile, a bit of interest, a bit of craft - even if they are "too loud for school" live. Even when you turn your speakers to 11 and put your ear really close, there's nothing there but a distant rumble, some shouty Ramones backing vocals and a squalling lead vocalist spouting nonsense nihilism. Then there's those Hammond organs that bring to mind the comedic Harpsichord played by Lurch of the Adams Family fame. Essentially, "Count In Fives" is a terrible waste of everyone's time. B-side "Night of The Long Knives" is even worse: a horrifyingly poor take on the work of the Birthday Party and the Dead Kennedys, with the off key vocals beyond contempt.

And that's the problem with the Horrors. At present, they are just an image and a lot of unnecessary hype. Their material doesn't live up to the billing, they don't deserve to be on the cover of the NME any more than Terris or the Kooks did. They're just another attempt to repackage a style of music that can be enjoyable when it's given an original take. But this isn't it: it's hollow and unsubstantial. The Eighties Matchbox B-line Disaster must be spinning in their graves.