In the glory days of rock ’n’ roll, artists changed all the time: Dylan went electric, became a Christian, and went back to his irascible, inscrutable self; Bowie became a different character every couple of years; and entirely separate family trees of rock bands emerged from the influence of each of the Velvet Underground’s first three albums. But today there is so much competition for people’s attention that artists try to get their act together right away — your first introduction may be the only chance you get. If it doesn’t work, you can try re-branding yourself, à la Lana Del Rey, but then you’ll be stuck with endless questions about your authenticity.
This is the conventional wisdom, but apparently no one told the Horrors about it, and thank goodness for that. The band emerged from an English town called Southend on Sea in 2005 with a gothy brand of punk, playing songs such as the garage-rock classic “Jack the Ripper” and adopting stage names along the lines of Spider Webb and Joshua Von Grimm. But two years later they were back with Primary Colors, using their own names and sounding like early ’90s shoegazers. Last year they returned with Skying, which often sounds like a lost ’80s classic by the Psychedelic Furs or the Charlatans UK. It won NME’s Best Album of 2011, and the Guardian newspaper declared the Horrors “Britain’s biggest cult band.”
The Horrors could easily outgrow that status soon. Skying is full of the kind of hooks that sound destined for arena-sized crowds, and yet there’s still enough of that shoegazer trippiness and goth-punk nastiness to keep the band interesting.
The Black Angels also perform.
THE HORRORS: Belly Up, Thursday, April 19, 9 p.m. 858-481-8140. $20.