The Presets
Pacifica


4.5
superb

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
September 11th, 2012 | 62 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Man, I'm worried sick for the youth in trouble...

There are plenty of Australian acts who achieve popularity by means of extensive touring and great songs, but it's fairly safe to say that few acts have come to loathe a higher profile more than Sydney duo The Presets. In 2008, they figured that releasing the darkest, heaviest song from their second album first would eliminate the room of squares instantly. That song, however, was “My People;” the song that broke the band into the Australian mainstream and remains their most popular song to date. It was either an open defiance of the pop mould or a sign of the times – whatever the case, The Presets didn't take kindly to their new-found fame.

In turn, the band took some time away – four years, in fact – in order to find what it was that they wanted out of The Presets again. So, what conclusion did they come to in this matter? Simple: In 2012, The Presets want to be everything at once, and then some. Whether Pacifica takes out gold, silver or bronze amidst the rankings with their other albums – 2006's Beams and 2008's Apocalypso – is irrelevant: Pacifica is irrefutably the band's most varied and ambitious effort yet. Take note of the first three tracks as your evidence – songs that could not present greater contrasts between them even if they tried. “Youth in Trouble” is a cauldron-bubble of inner-city paranoia (a recurring theme of the LP), whirring synthesizer and a pulsing beat that grows more claustrophobic and agitated until roughly the last ninety seconds or so, in which the track more or less explodes into technicolour. It's followed by “Ghosts,” which is essentially the band steering a pirate ship directly into the side of an expensive night-club – a dance-floor anthem exclusively on their terms. And just when you think there's at least some semblance of what the band have gone for on Pacifica in the early stages, Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes recall another duo – Daryl Hall and John Oates – with the Countdown-ready pop sheen of “Promises.” It's enough to make your next response to the question of whether or not you like The Presets to be “which one?”

Indeed, the schism continues throughout the LP. It seems as though the duo have thrown any elements of following a solitary path out the window, along with any idea that threatens to have merely one layer or dimension. There is so much going on at any given time on the album, it can be difficult to keep up. Indeed, it may frustrate listeners depending purely on what style of the band is preferred. Fans of the poppier side of things might decry their use of six-minute deviations into heavier trance-flavoured moments, while their dance-head fans may sneer at a track like “It's Cool,” which is far more Icehouse than Underworld. Across multiple listens, however, the band will surely bring those on one side of the fence to appreciate what's happening on the other. The band sell everything with both an icy cool and a warrior-like fevered passion, meaning that even if you feel like a song could have been shortened or a lyric been less cliched, you're still sold on how it's been done if only for how much the band put into it.

It all comes to a head on “A.O.,” which is the centrepiece of the album whether you like it or not. As it stands, there hasn't been a track like this since The Whitlams' “You Gotta Love This City” back in 1999: a tell-all expose on the ugly underbelly of the city of Sydney. After building up vile by means of Hamilton's snarled vocal lines and Moyes' snare-drum rolls, the track topples over into jarring, intentionally ugly buzzes of noise that sound as though they've picked a fight with a synth and won in the first round. Laser sounds fire off in the distance before a knowing club beat ensures that the sum of the song's parts essentially explodes across the soundscape. It's shocking, it's jarring, it's discordant and it's almost unquestionably the greatest thing the band have ever put their names to.

Don't let the extended absence fool you. Those evil geniuses have surely had this planned all along. Pacifica embraces the band's heavier past, defines their present and leaves remarkable promise for the future. Yes, it's still electronically-oriented dance music, kids – but not as you know it. Forget everything you knew about the band previously and enjoy.



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user ratings (43)
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3.6
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other reviews of this album
Gabriel Power (4.5)
The Presets' Pacifica, both frighteningly intense and unnervingly melodic, strikes that perfect midd...


Comments:Add a Comment 
CaptainDooRight
September 10th 2012


30336 Comments


Don't call it a comeback

ive been here for years

rockin the microphone

AtavanHalen
September 10th 2012


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

word

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2012


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this smells like the vault

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

SCREAMorphine
September 11th 2012


1763 Comments


I'm really tempted to check this out, good review.

bloc
September 11th 2012


35024 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I knew I could count on you for another high rating : )

RosaParks
September 11th 2012


15050 Comments


is this electronica

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2012


16131 Comments


your review makes me want to listen to it, so i will

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2012


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

similar to cut copy rosa

bloc
September 11th 2012


35024 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Bwaha please...

alachlahol
September 11th 2012


7515 Comments


pretty sure that summary's been used 2 or 3 times this year already

WhiteNoise
September 11th 2012


3254 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think I'll go get this today...

alachlahol
September 11th 2012


7515 Comments


nice review, havent listened to this group in years

AtavanHalen
September 11th 2012


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

changed summary

can we be mates

alachlahol
September 11th 2012


7515 Comments


ha

JoshTh
September 11th 2012


112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I get chills listening to the first drop in Youth in Trouble.

DirEnRefused
September 11th 2012


2241 Comments


You are my favourite reviewer on this site, there's a comfortable informality to your tone that I
cannot emulate.

baldymort
September 11th 2012


786 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So good. I've had it on repeat all morning.

AtavanHalen
September 12th 2012


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ direnrefused

that's really really sweet of you to say

thank you

taylormemer
September 12th 2012


4953 Comments


Awww.

AtavanHalen
September 12th 2012


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuck you



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