Energetic but uneven debut by London-based buzz band shows great promise.
The word "klaxon" derives from the Greek word "to shriek", a fact surely not lost on this London-based trio. Standard bearers of what some call "new rave", The Klaxons play a hyperkinetic brand of indie rock infused with the frenetic energy of rave culture. Fresh off an apparently awe-inspiring set at this year’s Coachella Festival, the band will return to the U.S. in July for a whirlwind tour, including a stop at the Pitchfork Festival in mid-July. Together bassist and bandleader Jamie Reynolds, guitarist Simon Taylor, and synth player James Righton (ably backed by James Ford on drums) are the latest in a long line of bands touted as the next big thing by the relentlessly hyperbolic British music press.
Being the Brit band of the moment clearly has its advantages, including breathless features in the NME, (check out the glowing seven page feature in the "Press" section of the band’s website), and big name collaborations, like their guest spot contributing vocals to the new Chemical Brothers single, "All Rights Reversed", off the Chemicals’ upcoming release We are the Night, due out July 17, 2007, on Astralwerks.
Still, it’s hard not to be skeptical whenever a new CD by an over-hyped British band hits my stereo -- I’ve been burned too many times before (remember Menswe@r, or Gay Dad?). It’s gotten to the point where I’ve started losing interest in Britpop altogether. Happily, Myths of the Near Future, The Klaxons’ debut full-length, is considerably better than I expected. The band combines the MDMA-fuelled energy of '80s dance music with prototypical guitar-based indie rock, to produce something that sounds surprisingly fresh. I don’t quite get the "new rave" tag, though. To my ears, their sound echoes angular punk influenced by dance music, more than the danceable, neo-psychedelic rhythms of Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, or the straight-ahead electronica of Prodigy, 808 State or other classic bands at the epicenter of the '80s rave scene.
Album-opener "Two Receivers" starts off with a crisp drumbeat emerging as if from underwater, adds a simple bassline, spacey keyboards and some nonsensical lyrics ("Krill edible oceans at their feet/ A troublesome troop out on safari/ A lullaby holds their drones in sleep"), layering instruments, effects, and vocals to nice effect. On "Atlantis to Interzone", the rave influences are a bit more obvious, from the sampled shout of "DJ!" opening the track, to the sirens in the background, but the track winds up sounding almost like two different songs smashed together, with slower verses and a hyperkinetic shouted chorus. The rest of the disc is less obviously aimed at the dancefloor, effectively mixing different tempos and styles, ranging from the classic pop of "Golden Skans" with its catchy falsetto backing vocals and inscrutable lyrics ("Night touched my hand with the turning golden skans/ From the night to the light all plans are golden in your hands"), to the comparatively straight ahead rocker "Gravity’s Rainbow" ("Come with me/ Come with me/ We’ll travel to infinity") with its massive sing-along chorus.
The Klaxons have chops, an ear for pop hooks and energy to spare, though whether that translates into long term success remains to be seen. And while Myths of the Near Future is far from revolutionary, the creative, layered production on their debut is definitely worth checking out.