Albums Of The Week

The Horrors and The Killers release albums filled with stadium-ready tunes

The Horrors are made up of (from left) Rhys Webb, Joseph Spurgeon, Tom Cowan, Joshua Hayward and Faris Badwan.
The Horrors are made up of (from left) Rhys Webb, Joseph Spurgeon, Tom Cowan, Joshua Hayward and Faris Badwan.PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE

Both The Horrors and The Killers release their fifth albums, which are full of synth-driven songs

There is so much in common between the new albums released by British band The Horrors and American quartet The Killers that one wonders if it is merely coincidence, or the result of some musical kismet.

Both are fifth albums released last Friday by bands that started out in the early to mid-2000s and were lumped together with all the other post-punk revival bands with the prefix "The" in their names.

In terms of style, there are many similarities too. V and Wonderful Wonderful are full of synth-driven songs that would work just as well in front of massive festival and stadium audiences as they would in intimate indie discos.

In the case of The Horrors, V sounds like a stab for the big time, a cohesive batch of tunes that could well elevate the band beyond the ramshackle, goth-punk rawness of their early releases.

Tunes such as opening track Hologram, Press Enter to Exit and Something To Remember Me By see the band refine the art-rock tendencies of the past few albums and sprinkle generous amounts of fetching melodies.

Make no mistake, frontman Faris Badwan and company have lost none of their insouciant cool, as the stylish strut of early single Machine and the ethereal Ghost can attest to.

  • ALTERNATIVE ROCK/SYNTHPOP

  • V

    The Horrors

    Wolf Tone/Caroline International

    4/5 stars

    ALTERNATIVE ROCK/SYNTHPOP

    WONDERFUL WONDERFUL

    The Killers

    Island

    4/5 stars

Badwan also seems to be at his most reflective, perhaps taking stock of his journey in life so far. "Looking down at the world below/Life beyond the open window, twisting over, bright lights overhead," he croons over the shimmering synths and dancey beats of World Below.

"It's a good life, a good life/Hold on," he proclaims one song later on pensive slow burner It's A Good Life.

Unlike The Horrors' slow and steady rise, Las Vegas outfit The Killers have found global success since their debut album, 2004's Hot Fuss.

Their status as arena-filling rock stars is already assured and they have secured several entries into indie rock canon. Hardly anyone would bat an eyelid if the band are found coasting on their new releases.

So it is a joy to hear singer Brandon Flowers and the band still sounding inspired on Wonderful Wonderful, tempering slick synthesizers and a 1980s-like pop sheen with impassioned vocals.

The band bust out a funky jam with The Man, a satirical take on macho behaviour, while Tyson Vs. Douglas, inspired by boxing legend Mike Tyson's first career loss, sees Flowers ruminating about how heroes are human after all.

Even a bout of writer's block can be turned into a new song, as they show on Have All The Songs Been Written? ("When the train returns to the rails/When the ship is back in the harbour/I will make you happy again/I can see it, I believe it").

The title track is the singer at his most emphatic. "Motherless child I am with thee, thou wast never alone/Maybe I'm dirty, maybe I'm unworthy/Motherless child, can you hear me? I will give you a home," he croons.

While it is fashionable for recent albums of their ilk to focus on political divisiveness and global turmoil, it is heartening to find that the band choose, instead, to shine a light on hope.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'Synths in sync'. Print Edition | Subscribe