The greatest songs of a fleeting era
Grab your glowsticks, neon tees and a one-way ticket to Shoreditch – it’s time to take a trip back to 2007. This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Klaxons’ ‘Myths of the Near Future’ debut, a Mercury Prize-winning time capsule for the fleeting madness of nu rave’s brief, bonkers heyday. With that in mind, NME is taking a look at the most euphoric, fully-charged, obnoxious anthems of their time. Whatever you might think of these songs today, they sound-tracked a perfect albeit short-lived phase that’s worth celebrating.
Klaxons – ‘Atlantis to Interzone’
There’s more to ‘Myths of the Near Future’ than many give it credit: a sensitive, crossover anthem in ‘Golden Skans’; a razor-toothed cover of Grace’s ‘It’s Not Over Yet’ that’s proved tough to top; and a perfectly batshit precursor to today’s apocalypse with LP closer ‘Four Horsemen of 2012’. But ‘Atlantis to Interzone’ best epitomises nu rave’s stratospheric rise from East London basements to the big time. Its siren-backed ‘DJ!’ remains synonymous with the scene, giving way to the kind of sample-bashing madness Klaxons mastered better than anyone else.
CSS – ‘Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above’
Most of nu rave’s of-the-moment highlights remain glued to 2007, but ‘Let’s Make Love…’ looks like having the longest shelf life. A standout from the São Paulo band’s ‘Cansei de Ser Sexy’ debut, it’s a slick, spacious single that’s managed to outlive the rest of the record, even though it’s been scientifically proven that getting jiggy to DFA 1979 isn’t the most fun you can have under the sheets. At their peak, CSS were up there with the best, stars of NME’s 2007 Indie Rave tour alongside Klaxons, New Young Pony Club and The Sunshine Underground.
New Young Pony Club – ‘Ice Cream’
New Young Pony Club are still going strong, navigating their nu rave beginnings towards heady synth pop on 2013’s ‘NYPC’ album. ‘Ice Cream’ remains their biggest day glo triumph, though. Tahita Bulmer promised “I can give you what you want” over jagged post-punk guitars – in 2006, the London group ticked all the boxes.
Late of the Pier – ‘Bathroom Gurgle’
Late of the Pier made one of the ’00s finest debuts with ‘Fantasy Black Channel’. Several years on, fans were still begging for a follow-up. ‘Focker’ was a Skins-worthy house party anthem, ‘Space in the Woods’ a chugging cause for alarm. Best of all was ‘Bathroom Gurgle’, a smart antidote to nu rave’s fashioned lack of restraint. The record will always be a one-off, due to the sad passing of drummer Ross Dawson in 2015, but vocalist Samuel Eastgate has since steered Late of the Pier’s legacy in new, weird directions, thanks to his LA Priest and Soft Hair projects.
The Gossip – ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ (Soulwax Nite Version)
As teen drama Skins turns ten, it’s worth revisiting the incredible music that pinned it all together. Foals’ house party cameo and Crystal Castles’ break-up-soundtracking euphoria was one thing, but Soulwax’s percussive twist on The Gossip’s biggest single was in another league. This was 2007 in a ‘MDMAzing’ nutshell – dumb, reckless hedonism captured across six wild minutes.
Does It Offend You, Yeah? – ‘We Are Rockstars’
It might sound as grubby and dated as the toilets in an abandoned Hoxton bar, but ‘We Are Rockstars’ went far. Soundtracking 2009’s Fast & Furious spin-off, it also appeared in the background of an Eastenders episode – Ian Beale always did like the odd rave, after all.
Shitdisco – ‘I Know Kung Fu!’
Supporting Klaxons on NME’s 2006 Nu Rave Tour, Glasgow group Shitdisco favoured deadly, thudding percussion and dark tones over neon-lit skinny jeans. ‘I Know Kung Fu’ is both a product of its time and a successor to The Rapture’s dagger-edged pop. It’s also a rarity in the nu rave era for its inclusion of cowbell.
Hadouken! – ‘That Boy, That Girl’
Hadouken!’s debut single was a swaggering, cocky dig at posturing East London and kids who didn’t dare to be different. The “Hoxton Hero with skinny fit jeans”, “Indie Cindy” with a “Lego haircut” were targets of their rage, and it helped propel the grime-nodding force to huge heights. They’ve been on hiatus since 2014.
Friendly Fires – ‘Photobooth’
Friendly Fires’ tropical pop wasn’t rooted in nu rave, but the technicolour glow of ‘Photobooth’ most definitely was. It’s a steamed up outlier from their 2008 self-titled debut album, a timestamp that stands separate from the rest of their work. The XL-signed group have been very, very quiet in recent years, save for some side projects – perhaps all this nu rave nostalgia will stir them back into action.
The Sunshine Underground – ‘Borders’
‘Borders’ walked a tightrope between heartfelt songwriting, charged-up indie and nu rave’s staples, which might be why the Shrewsbury via Leeds group end up omitted from nostalgic conversations. Ten years on from debut ‘Raise the Alarm’, 2016 saw them splitting up via final album ‘Luminescent’.
Datarock – ‘Fa Fa Fa’
In every ‘who parties hardest?’ debate at the time, Datarock seemed to come out trumps. The 2000-formed Norwegian group’s dance pop hybrid had its roots in nu rave, giving nods to funk and Talking Heads along the way. Somehow, those signature red jumpsuits are still going, their most recent album being 2015’s ‘The Musical’.
The Whip – ‘Trash’
Kitsuné-backed Oldham band The Whip had the sound of a hundred, post-rave hangovers rolled into one, and the band have been defunct since 2011. But ‘Trash’ has been everywhere, soundtracking the Alex Zane-presented Rude Tube, video games (Forza Motorport 3), beer adverts and the OST for Pacific Rim. Their career might have amounted to little, but ‘Trash’ somehow keeps going.
Bono Must Die – ‘Trafalgar’
They were so Shoreditch it hurt, and they were probably your friend on MySpace. Bono Must Die brought a jagged style to tightly-wound, Nathan Barley-worthy pop. Frontman Tobi O’Kandi went on to form O. Children, a sorely underrated band from the late ‘00s.
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GOOSE – ‘Low Mode’
Here’s where it begins to get niche. Belgium dance punks GOOSE aren’t defined by their rough-edged 2006 debut ‘Bring It On’, and they certainly weren’t front and centre of the scene. But ‘Low Mode’ was on every playlist worth its salt; a jagged precursor for the group’s Stranger Things-worthy synth pop, which they specialise in today.
Trash Fashion – ‘It’s a Rave Dave’
If nu rave was every given a museum exhibition, this would be its centrepiece. ‘It’s a Rave Dave’ is the perfect pastiche of pill-popping, dickhead-filled hedonism. Trash Fashion’s member called themselves things like Jet Storm and Jimbo Ready, which tells you all you need to know. As far as tongue-in-cheek artefacts go, it doesn’t get better than this.
Bonde Do Role – ‘Marina Gasolina’
CSS weren’t the only Brazil-based party starters to set 2006’s agenda. After touring with Lovefoxxx and co., they put out debut album ‘With Lasers’ in 2007, the best being hyperactive beast ‘Marina Gasolina’. It doesn’t take a genius to translate the lines “Marina anfetamina / Marina gasolina”…
We Smoke Fags – ‘Lust Puppet’
‘Lust Puppet’ was cherished by nu rave’s biggest heads; an extreme twist on the scene’s staples. Bit of trivia: bassist Lee Godwin once played a shoeshine boy in CBBC series The Ghost Hunter. And if that’s not an essential nu rave fact, nothing is.