OK, so it’s no ‘Chinese Democracy’, but it feels like the return of nu rave pioneers Klaxons has been a long time coming. Having picked up the Mercury Prize in 2007 for debut ‘Myths of the Near Future’ with the most hilariously dilated pupils the ceremony has ever seen and scooped NME’s album of the year a few months later, the trio seemed untouchable. Then the curse of the second album struck with voodoo force. Having spent the majority of 2008 whacked out on peyote, the resulting LP II mk I was rejected by their label for being – perhaps unsurprisingly given the circumstances – too experimental. The second, revised version – 2010’s ‘Surfing the Void’, meanwhile, proved somewhat of a critical damp squib and was largely rejected by the public.
And so to 2014. After nearly four years, during which album updates have been tentative and delayed, Jamie Reynolds, James Righton and Simon Taylor-Davis are back with ‘Love Frequency’ (due June 4) and *whisper it* they might just have nailed it. Here’s our track-by-track first listen…
Opening with a trill like someone playing a classical scale on a child’s Casio keyboard and falsetto harmonies declaring “Remember when you dream/ To see the way you want it to be”, Klaxons are back confident, bushy-tailed and bright-eyed from the off. The whole track deals in lyrics so hopeful they could be taken straight from a New Age self-help book, while both the trio’s vocals and squelching dancefloor beats are reminiscent of the band at their peak.
There Is No Other Time
You’ll know this one. The first single to come from ‘Love Frequency’, released back in February was – according to NME’s review at the time – “a camp disco number” that “bears little resemblance to their previous records”. Produced by London team Gorgon City, the track still sounds as intriguing a U-turn now as it did two months ago.
Show Me A Miracle
Going further down the straight-up dance route than ever before, ‘Show Me A Miracle’ sounds like Hurts gone dubstep. Part pure pop chorus melodies, part dirty womping beats, it’s perhaps not the album’s most innovative highlight, but it’s the kind of track that has Radio 1 summer hit splashed all over it.
Out of the Dark
“If you believe in love/ Then I believe in you/ If you believe in truth/ There’s nothing we can do” goes track four – digging further into the Spirituality for Beginners book that the record seems to have been absorbing into its lyrical midst. That said, however, add in some New Order style synths and a general air of sun-drenched Ibiza haze and all the free love starts to sound pretty appealing.
Children of the Sun
This is more like it. The weirdest, and possibly best, cut on the record casts Klaxons as bass-heavy shaman, pairing a relentless, repeated synth/vocal riff with falsetto coos about rising from the dawn and one hell of a drop. It’s like all the best, wonkiest bits of ‘Myths…’, set to a track that’s just crying out for some elaborate, drug-addled Egyptian themed video. Pretty sure Simon would make a sterling Ra the Sun God. Someone get that man a gold cape.
Centred on a descending, Balearic-tinged keyboard motif, ‘Invisible Forces’ is a full-on dancefloor banger. There are guitar flourishes smattered throughout but, like the majority of the album, it finds Klaxons treading a decidedly less indie-tinged path. Like ‘Children of the Sun’ before it, however, ‘Invisible Forces’ fully utilizes the crowd-baiting power of the mid-song drop – in fact, if there’s one theme that runs throughout ‘Love Frequency’, then that would likely be it.
Rhythm of Life
Segueing seamlessly from the closing synths of ‘Invisible Forces’, ‘Rhythm of Life’ takes its predecessor and knocks it into overdrive. Pushing the bass to the fore before kicking in with some claustrophobic drum machine beats, it’s, if not dark, then decidedly less giddy than much of the record. “This record is very much about the present, an emotionally honest album about technological and personal progression,” revealed Reynolds earlier this year. This is perhaps where the two elements marry up.
A three-minute instrumental, ‘Liquid Light’ is possibly the most unexpected moment on the album – not just for its lack of vocals, but for its minimalism. Shimmering synths sit atop a juddering sample and occasionally cut out to be replaced with sparse piano lines. In the context of the record as a whole, it works as a moment of respite – their own personal mid-LP chill out room.
Remember when Jamie Reynolds announced that he was filming a documentary about Adam Ant back in 2011? Well, it seems the warpaint-striped Antmusic star had more of an effect on the Klaxons singer than first imagined since the tribal drums of ‘The Dreamers’ are straight out of ‘Stand and Deliver’ era Ant. Wispy coos about “doorways melting’ and “tapestries dancing”, meanwhile, add enough of an acid-soaked glaze to ensure the trio’s stamp is still firmly at the fore. The result is like the soundtrack to a Naboo-heavy scene of the Mighty Boosh involving a magic carpet and a pipe of something unmentionable.
Atom to Atom
The latest track to be previewed from the forthcoming release, ‘Atom to Atom’ starts fairly subtly but just wait until 2:38. “From atom to atom/ It’s starting to happen,” the trio chant as synths bubble up around them to what is clearly going to be the drop to end them all. Literally made for hedonistic festival crowds, the release of this just in time for the first rays of summer is surely no coincidence.
And so we come to the album’s close. “The love frequency’s in my heart/ It’s been with me from the start,” they trill, bringing an air of satisfied acceptance to the album’s repeated spiritual musings. Of course, the electronic blips and beeps around them are distinctly less ambient, but Klaxons are nothing if not contrary. It bows out with a final space-age, echoing harmony, leaving behind ghosts of the party as though its not quite ready to leave.