Review Summary: Myths of the Near Future is no classic- the highs don’t come fast enough to warrant that- but it’s a solid debut release from one of the least pretentious bands around
When English electro-pop revivalists Hot Chip sang last year of “the joy of repetition” (‘Over And Over,’ The Warning
) they were probably referring to themselves. More probably, it was a self-conscious justification of their own brand of metronomic DFA-style pop. And it didn’t work.
Klaxons, on the other hand, are perfect examples of the working principle. The self-professed inventors of “new rave,” a rather fancy way of saying “Franz Ferdinand”- that is, art rock under the influence of electronic dance music- understand perfectly the mesmerising effect of repetition on a piece of music, provided the right ornamentation is in place. New single ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ runs a little past two-and-a-half minutes, and the second half is no more than a breathless recycling of the chorus while additional instruments are added with each rotation, a method so simple that you’d wonder why more bands don’t do it- perhaps it requires imagination. The same trick is repeated throughout Myths of the Near Future
, the London group’s bookish debut release. Think the immediacy of early Bloc Party, without the college-level political slogans, matched with the unashamed shindiggery of the acid dance era- or, to re-boil and overused kettle, rave.
The “new rave” proclamation has become an incredibly boring topic very quickly, threatening to overshadow a very promising debut album. The bulk of the criticism has emanated from the generation old enough to have experienced the early-90s “drugs and crap music” era firsthand and self-satisfied enough to hold a band’s lesser years against them, while certain other quarters have seen fit to hail them as the saviours of whatever’s in fashion this month. The derision from purists is understandable to a point, as the rave influence on Myths of the Near Future
is more an atmospheric and a textural approach than anything substantial, but it misses the obvious point: new rave isn’t supposed to sound like pure rave (ambiguous to begin with), otherwise it wouldn’t have a big fat “new” in front of it- expecting a nostalgia trip from Klaxons is as stupid as expecting The Damned from Talking Heads or T. Rex from Explosions From The Sky.
Stylistically, Klaxons have more in common with the art rock revivalists of last year than they do the current crop of dance-punk outfits. There’s two sides to their sound; the first is the rock side, dominated by the infectious and enviously-simple basslines of frontman/bassist Jamie Edwards, the other centred around slowly unfolding pop soundscapes courtesy of keyboardist James Righton. ‘Atlantis Interzone’ fits into the first category, an over-the-top anthem that hints at the introverted highs of rave but thankfully winds up in Bloc Party territory, while ‘Totem on the Timeline’ is a slightly obtuse, atonal rocker that further plays up the club gimmick with the line: “At Club 18-30 I met Julius Caesar, Lady Diana and Mother Teresa.”
Sober, you’d probably only meet the latter.
The top tracks, however, aren’t the energetic post punk numbers but the textured pop ones. Single ‘Golden Skans’ broke the band commercially earlier this year, and with good reason; it’s a densely-packed pop track, clocking in well below three minutes but with enough unique themes to fill six, and the “oo-ee-oo” vocal theme might rival gonorrhoea in the “most infectious” stakes at any given house party. ‘As Above, So Below’ channels the occult by way of 13
-era Blur, as does ‘Magick,’ repeating the “oo-ee-oo” trick through a James Murphy prism, while the update of Grace/Paul Oakenfold’s club classic ‘Not Over Yet’ (here titled ‘It’s Not Over Yet’) is inspired, recasting the choppy synth riff as a wiry guitar line and correcting the original’s unfortunate bias by emphasising the stunning vocal melody.
Myths of the Near Future
is remarkably pithy for a dance album, even a rock album in this age, clocking in at just thirty-five minutes (minus the hidden track and the hideously long wait to get to it). And though it peaks very early and lapses into imitation at times (‘Forgotten Works’ owes a lot to Tears For Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The Wolrld’), there’s no “bad” tracks to speak of. Add to the mix two monster singles- it’s been quite a while since a rock act has had huge back-to-back singles in these parts- and a couple of potential re-releases, and you’ve got yourself something quite special. Myths of the Near Future
is no classic- the highs don’t come fast enough to warrant that- but it’s a solid debut release from one of the least pretentious bands around- and for that they deserve your money.