Having a name director, in this case Chris Cunningham, work on your debut video, "Sheena Is A Parasite," was a major coup. Having that same video banned by MTV UK delivered fawning press and buzz fodder.
Even though actress Samantha Morton went around spewing her guts or whatever, that wasn't the reason MTV UK gave the clip the thumbs down. No, it was Cunningham's use of strobe lights. Would viewers sitting through projectile vomiting become ill due to the strobe? Corporate requested the strobe lights be edited. No way. So the ban came down. Could a self-respecting group do anything else? And could it have turned out better? It's all about getting noticed. By the way, in the U.S., where sensibilities are not as delicate, the video found a home on MTV2.
The Horrors started in the summer of '05. Given their look and sound, perhaps October (around Halloween) would have been a better launch date. Regardless, The Horrors made their U.S. debut in '07 with "Strange House."
The Horrors recorded their sophomore album, "Primary Colours," in Bath. In the process, Fruse and Webb switched instruments. Fruse moved to synthesizer while Webb took over on bass.
Led by the single "Sea Within A Sea," and the supporting video directed by Douglas Hart, former bassist for The Jesus And Mary Chain, "Primary Colours" made its debut at #25 on the U.K. chart. The album was also nominated for the (Barclaycard) Mercury Prize that is awarded annually for the best album from the U.K. or Ireland.
2007 Strange House
2009 Primary Colours
To understand The Horrors and their album "Strange House," it's best to go back to the late '60s and use The Doors as the template. Only instead of Jim Morrison, there's Iggy Pop. Replacing Ray Manzarek is whoever played keyboards for the B-52s. Send guitarist Robbie Krieger to the showers and slot in Johnny Ramone (Ramones). And finally, blow out the Jazz influenced drumming of the Doors' John Densmore and plug-in the far more direct Trey Cool (Green Day). If that line-up sounds appealing then The Horrors nail it. They're like a Punk band with a campy, horror-movie style organ. It can be viewed as kitschy fun or a joke. But either way, they're entertaining.
Sheena has had quite a history. First she was a Punk Rocker (so say the Ramones) and now, according to The Horrors, she's become a parasite. Hey, we all grow and change. The song earned the Horrors notice and deservedly so. "Sheena Is A Parasite" possesses everything The Horrors do well - energy, drive and an out-of-control, in-your-face rant.
There was once a fifth-tier Rock band with a prolific lead singer. Not that the guy was a genius. He was just very good at nicking bits from more successful bands. It got so bad (obvious) that the band's bassist and drummer had an ongoing contest to see who could identify the origin of the riff, chord progression or bass line the singer had lifted for one of his songs. The Horrors' "Primary Colours" inspires much the same game - there's a taste of the Smiths ("Do You Remember"), Simple Minds and INXS (it's the keyboards) - though they are subtle.
"Primary Colours," with its '80s fixation, contains "Three Decades," a song so good it could have led the post-Wave movement. "Do You Remember" and "Who Can Say" keep the era's appeal intact by latching complicated emotions to catchy melodies.
The Horrors nail the drama on "I Can't Control Myself" but they do it better on the majestic title track ("glory adorned and immortalized in primary colours"). "Sea Within A Sea" has a sterile precision that may work in the U.K. but other, better, songs will likely do the trick in the U.S.