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Klaxons – Surfing The Void

August 15, 2010

Originally posted on The 405

Label: Polydor
Release Date: 23/08/10
Link: Official Site

Lets get the following hyperbolic words and Klaxon-cliché/stories out the way that will not feature in this review post-this sentence (feel free to arrange them into some order): 2007, Nu-rave, excess, Mercury Prize, glowsticks, hysteria, hysteric journalists, New Cross scene etc. We are all well aware of the history following the release of Myths of the Near Future, a splendid pop-cross over album that became astronomical helped by the rare synergy known as right place/time syndrome.

So some three years down the line, during which rumours surfaced that their record label asked them to ‘re-record’ a whole proggy ‘rejected’ album (although where the truth lies here is ambiguous), Klaxons are back with more psychedelic tales in the form of the broodingly expansive and  wildly antipcated Surfing The Void. How does it fare, on it’s own merits and in relation to their debut?

From opening track and lead single Echoes, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a secret track from MOANF; verses in-between contain classic Klaxons-harmonising vocals over quieter spacious moments, before ploughing into a hooky noise-fest of a chorus that demands body parts to be flung around.. A stand-out track and deserved single, but not quiet reaching the levels of Golden Skans which to be fair is the closest comparison.

As the album progresses it becomes clearer that Klaxons have not attempted to make Myths… Pt II, which is obviously a positive. Tracks such as Venusia signify this as it starts off with an almost disquieting, menacing guitar riff that reverbs with swagger, and grows over the course of the opening 30 seconds. It tails off somewhat once the standard verse/chorus transpires. This is not to say it doesn’t work, it very much does; it’s just that after a slightly leftfield and intriguing start we are led to something a shade more predictable, but still a fine piece of marvelous produced pop.

Flashover is an arguable highlight with a crunching and quite heavy chorus, aided by the astute drumming of Steffan Halperin, which is a strength throughout Surfing The Void. We are then treated to a breakdown two-thirds through as Jamie Reynolds gently confesses ‘Dimensions of time have become undone, now we have become so un-alone’, before proceeding with a second satisfying frenzied build-up.

This ‘heavy’ aspect rears its unmistakable head often – Reynolds and co sidestepping the colourful-raved-up keyboards more than ever (though not totally), and welcoming in further rock and pounding rhythms. What continues are the esoteric literary and grand mystic references in the lyrics, as you’d expect from former Goldmiths art/philosophy students and indeed from their previous work. No references of cats in spacesuits sadly.

The Same Spaces threatens to get somewhere grand, but ultimately never quite arrives and leaves us wanting more – and Extra Astronomical suffers from this fate even more so, feeling like a weaker Flashover. However, most tracks work individually and as a whole, as ‘little discoveries’ are frequently plundered given repeated listenings. Cypherspeed captures the riotous nature of Klaxons, and a track that surely will make for a brilliant live experience (that could be send of much of the album in truth).

As stated before, this is not a Myths remake – but nor is it a huge innovative step forward in sound for Klaxons; not that a breakthrough on the Corinthian-scale of Myths was ever a likelihood, but perhaps something more could have been. What we are left with is a very solid and enjoyable album boasting a rockier edge, with often beautifully engineered and produced pop containing flashes of inspiration. The flashes could have been longer and brighter, but they are without doubt there – and bedazzling they are when we lay eyes on them.

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