SCQ Rating: 82%
Up until Christmas, this here twentieth position was held for The Strokes’ Angles. That’s right – I’d worked up a pretty strong defense for the former it-band’s fourth LP and done my damnedest to point out how much of an improvement it is from 2006’s drawn-out First Impressions of Earth. So why does it read “The Horrors” next to SCQ’s #20 spot?
I’ve secretly been listening to Skying for the past six months at work. It began innocently enough out of curiosity, since I’d never heard Primary Colours or Strange House before, but quickly descended into an obsessive, albeit strangely time-and-place, habit. I’d unlock the store doors most mornings in July, August and, depending on my mood, start with either the buoyant ‘Changing the Rain’ or the hypnotic momentum of ‘Still Life’. For whatever reason, Skying lay at the center of a lengthy indecision: do I bring the record home or maintain my arm’s-length work-relationship with it? Should I bring its soothing new-wave ocean into the madness of my apartment, where wedding preparations were in full tilt, or keep it a snapshot of these quiet mornings at the hull? Until two days ago, I’d chosen the latter.
As familiar as I am with Angles’ arrow-sharp, pop experiments, The Strokes’ casual rhythms are helpless to rival the layered, crushing heaviness of Skying. Whether the British quintet are blurring the line between kraut-like percussion and sine waves on ‘Moving Further Away’ or giving languid ambient-rock a vicious kick in the teeth on ‘Endless Blue’, Skying showcases the Horrors’ expert precision at wielding sonic and emotional depths. By the time a massive tidal wave of searing noise and processed bass brings ‘Oceans Burning’, and the record at whole, to a blistering close, I wonder how I resisted its surge for so long.