First, and this is all the word count this issue deserves, you can ignore the “nü rave” moniker, it’s a marketing campaign that attempts to cash in on a scene that’s taken Klaxons’ live show under its wing, but to which the band doesn’t quite belong. Klaxons may provide fertile fodder for some remixers to rework the early ’90s rave sound for ecstatic British youth (like Third Eye Mafia’s re-edit of “Atlantis to Interzone”), but the band’s actual music is chaotic indie dance, only faintly tipping the cap to rave music, more to Krautrock and punk-funk, even pop.
Straight to it: Klaxons’ first two songs are end-of-year list-worthy, surging melodic dance-punk anthems with an ear for melody and an addictive sense of dismissal. “Gravity’s Rainbow” bounces and crashes with some kind of hectic Happy Mondays abandon; as the repeating line builds (“we’ll travel to infinity”) the song almost careens out of control. “Atlantis to Interzone”, cloaking its industrial wails and sirens in a low-fi percussion glow, periodically allows post-punk guitars to interrupt the basic dance-groove. The multi-tracked vocals have an Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys’ delivery (seems unavoidable for young Brit bands these days), but the song’s abandon is more reminiscent of Test Icicles than the former group’s straighter rock fare. The rest of the disc plays out just so: “4 Horsemen of 2012” borrowing more directly from Eddie Argos’ ironic delivery (though the song fails to thrill with the directness of the opening tracks); “The Bouncer” moving into full-on industrial indie dance; and a couple of underwhelming remixes, Van She’s a Presets wannabe, Crystal Castles cheapening “Atlantis” to straight house.
Seems a bit like the band’s saving up some material for the full length (as they should). They do two covers of early ’90s rave songs, of which one, Kicks Like a Mule’s “The Bouncer”, makes it on. The Grace song “Not over Yet” doesn’t, which is a shame as it is one of their better songs, and an effective homage. Their upcoming debut, due in 2007, is produced by Simian Mobile Disco, so we could expect the electro and rave elements to be turned up, though I hope the band retains some of the pop-melodic sensibility that make their songs so effective. If new singles “Magick” and “Golden Skans” (not included on the Xan Valleys EP) are any indication, the magic’s still there. While the former features a more mellow interlude, both build to a massive climax of whining synths and Bloc Party-style guitar chaos.
That’s why an EP’s the perfect vehicle for Klaxons right now. Hyped on the internet and in the British press, and seemingly with the songs to bear it out, the band’s slow-playing we in the U.S., and we’re loving it. Trust, the thousand remixes of “Atlantis to Interzone” (including a massive one from Digitalism) floating around the internet will likely only increase in frequency through whenever the full length drops. And even if “4 Horsemen of 2012” is an important reminder of fallibility, overall Xan Valleys EP is more than refreshing; it gives hope for another imminent Important Record of 2007. Keep an eye out — this could be a big one.