Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future

Klaxons’ debut album, Myths Of The Near Future is now here, so we finally have the chance to discern whether this much-feted band are either the best thing since sliced bread or just another chance for us all to cry emperor’s new clothes all over again. Well, in my opinion, Klaxons fall into neither of these two categories, but then again, music’s never as black-and-white as some areas of the press try to paint it.

Despite what Dom Passantino might think – a man often deployed by Stylus to tear the latest bright young Brits a new arsehole, as he has done in recent times to Lily Allen (undeserved) and The View (very much deserved and totally hilarious) – Myths Of The Near Future isn’t just another ham-fisted attempt by a British band to emulate the synergy between the dance and rock worlds that Primal Scream perfected with Screamadelica or The Stone Roses with ‘Fool’s Gold’. By claiming that they are no better than The Music by ‘cleverly’ embedding a YouTube vid of that band’s ‘Breakin’’ single at the bottom of his review (a move that you can imagine will give him a smug, over-inflated sense of his own intelligence for, ooh, at least the rest of the month), Mr Passantino, in one pithy pay-off, has completely bought the biggest misconception about Klaxons; that they are a rock band trying to make dance music.

Yes, there are a lot of songs on Myths Of The Near Future that you can conceivably throw some mean shapes to and yes, there are some big old signifiers that point to the influence of rave culture to be found, most notably in ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ and their cover of Grace’s ‘Not Over Yet’, but it is, essentially, just an indie rock album. An impressive, promising indie rock album, but an indie rock album all the same. There’s not a lot separating most of Klaxons’ oeuvre from the more cartwheeling, frenetic songs on Bloc Party’s debut or, say, Franz Ferdinand when all’s said and done.

Klaxons have actually pulled off a clever bait-and-switch on the music press by playing up to the conceit and smokescreen of ‘New Rave’, firstly by virtue of coining that much-derided term and, secondly by embracing the fluoro-drenched aesthetic of that nascent scene in their videos and Carri Mundane-designed stagewear. The fact that they’ve now released an album that has as much in common with Prodigy’s Music For The Jilted Generation as apples do with oranges just makes me like them all the more.

Alas, Myths Of The Near Future is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a perfect album. It’s an album that favours nail-gun bluntness over nuance and subtlety far too many times, mostly when it’s just starting to get really interesting, as on the infuriating ‘As Above, So Below’. The song starts off with a faintly psychedelic, 60s pop edge to it, but it’s not long before James Ford’s chaotic, over-production kicks in (come on guy, it’s not a Simian Mobile Disco record) in the form of overdriven fuzz guitar and way too much hissy hi-hat. The sickeningly crass ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ – a song so vomit-inducingly bad that I get a migraine when I even think about it – should not have been allowed anywhere near the album. Sure, it may well ‘work’ in a live setting or a dingy indie club, but actually listening to it at home is a kind of torture that I have no interest in subjecting myself to ever again.

Also, and I realise that this may be a rather esoteric thing to gripe about, the sequencing is just all wrong. Myths… is heavily backloaded, something that may well cause some listeners to switch off before the best songs hit. Within the first five tracks, there’s only really ‘Golden Skans’ that would count among their best songs and even that is placed too near the front to have the impact that it deserves. ‘Golden Skans’ would have been better suited coming in around the midway point where it would have acted as a much-needed pace-lessener.

However, Klaxons do achieve this effect with the deliciously odd ‘Isle Of Her’, the album’s proggy, Wicker Man-like centrepiece with its ominous, druggy, druidic stomp and faux-mystic lyrics that shroud an otherwise workaday tale of love and devotion in veils of witchy, medieval, fun nonsense.

This then gives way to a dazzling, careening second half of the record that takes in past singles ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ and ‘Magick’, alongside the aforementioned cover of Paul Oakenfold’s greatest pop moment. Touched up a little from the delightfully raw single version, ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ is lent an import and expanse that serves it well and proves it to be the futuristic neo-noir hyper ballad, kicked up to danceable speed, that we all knew it was in the first place.

‘Forgotten Works’ then slows things down a little and is a more upbeat companion piece to ‘Isle Of Her’ with the lyrics descending into more of that song’s winning mythic bullshit (“Light the bridges with the lanterns/You know something’s going to happen”), but with more lightness of touch than that song. Then comes the fizzing, hectic ‘Magick’, all rollercoaster percussion and itchy guitar, before their blissed-out, touching take on ‘Not Over Yet’ dashes any accusations of novelty with aplomb.

‘Four Horsemen Of 2012’ closes things out in suitably crunching manner; a song which, while it has more in common with the execrable ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ than anything else here, has a dangerous, violent edge that that song lacks.

So even though Myths Of The Near Future isn’t the unalloyed success that NME clearly wants you to believe it is, it’s not, by any means, a terrible album either. What it occasionally lacks in subtlety though, it more than makes up for with confidence, gumption, humour and smarts. Dom Passantino may disagree, but he also won’t be the only reviewer to confuse the image and the music. With this album, Klaxons are sure to end up the most misjudged band of the year, if nothing else.

Klaxons - Forgotten Works (mp3)

P.S. Apologies for the lack of a pic on this post, but Blogger's being awkward. I'll add one at a later date.


Anonymous The Ledge said...

Dom Passantino irks me at the best of times but the review of The View is the dog's bollocks.

8:15 pm  
Anonymous Jude said...

apropos of nothing posted here...

[new In Flagranti 12"/ new Freshro (Rong Music) 12"]


8:19 pm  
Anonymous Chicken said...

james where for arse thou? where for arse thou james? lol

OH and I did a blogger

I have not moved in properly yet though :D

8:48 pm  
Blogger Ashley said...

"What it occasionally lacks in subtlety though, it more than makes up for with confidence, gumption, humour and smarts."

I think that's brilliantly put. You should check them out on tour if you can. I've heard they're pretty fantastic live. They have dates on their website:

9:41 am  

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