horrors-luminous[xrr rating=2.0/5]There is a curious duality with the Horrors’ fourth album, Luminous. On the one hand, it is a technically proficient recording, competent in its niche as a piece of drifting psychedelia. On the flipside, it is almost entirely unmoving and void of captivation, falling flat despite its objectively astute playing. It’s a frustrating disconnect.

On first impression, the album shimmers and sparkles like treasure twinkling in an unearthed tomb. But as you pull out its riches one by one, you realize it wasn’t as glorious as it appeared at first listen. In this case, the 10 songs here progress so that anticipation builds and builds and builds… only to have virtually no payoff. That oomph factor, the element that should knock you back and make you take notice, just isn’t there.

Opener “Chasing Shadows” is typical of the album’s shortcomings. It begins with promise, unfurling like fog spreading over a lake just after sunset, insects and birds chirping as the synths emerge. It whets your appetite, but goes on for so long that when it abruptly explodes into a surging rhythm and swirling tones at the 2:49 mark, it’s more of a relief than a reward. When the tune kicks in it soars like a jet taking off, but it arrives so late and with no actual transition from the lead-in, that the intro seems extraneous.

That intro isn’t alone. Most of the album’s cuts last a minute or two longer than necessary. Extended instrumental interludes plod on monotonously. With few hooks or lingering melodies, the result is a 51-minute dirge of surface-level show without much substance beneath. One of the only tracks to stand out from the standard airy synths, breezy vocals, phased effects and mid-tempo drums is “Jealous Sun,” and only because its screeching guitars and droning throb are a blatant My Bloody Valentine homage. The only other memorable tune is “I See You,” its guitars ricocheting off one another and the pulsating beats that radiate heat. Once again, intense percussion strains to energize the proceedings, but it fails to transcend the record.

Luminous is fine if you want background music for meditation. Maybe that’s what the Horrors intended, as its rhythms don’t make you want to dance and barely inspire light foot tapping. But it’s not a record worth paying attention to.

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