Why do they call it the ‘difficult’ second album? Well, maybe it’s because most bands have the entirety of their carefree youth to write their debut, and about three months under the desperate glare of a skint A&R man to perfect the follow-up. As humbling as it must have been to be ordered back into the studio by Universal to rewrite part of their forthcoming second album, Klaxons have at least been afforded extra time and constructive criticism – both of which are veritable luxuries when there’s a fat pile of notes begging to be printed by rushing out a follow-up to the Nationwide Mercury Prize-winning ‘Myths Of The Near Future’.
But, if the new tunes showcased during tonight’s low-key festival warm-up are anything to go by, the London quartet’s return will sound even more kaleidoscopic and colourful than we (and perhaps they) had expected. Those who cried “sell-out” at Klaxons’ willingness to come up with more accessible material at the behest of their paymasters can shut it for a start; the juddering opener ‘Hoodoo Borer’ is a prime example of the heavy direction they’ve long talked about exploring. It’s a hulking beast of a tune and capable of proving Klaxons aren’t about to turn into the new rave Jonas Brothers after all. After ‘Magick’ jolts the glowsticks into life, another recently penned number, ‘Silver Forest’, gets an airing. A shroud of eerie atmospherics lingers around the song’s central piano riffs, creating the kind of unsettling beauty few of their UK contemporaries could get anywhere close to replicating.
But the best of the bunch is ‘Echoes’, which boasts a fantastically instant groove laced with ravey keyboard stabs and a serene, half-tab level of euphoria, all crowned with one of the year’s most memorable choruses. It tows the line perfectly between dancefloor epic and radio anthem and is the most warmly received newie of the night. If this is the band’s concession to accessibility, then it’s one they’ve managed to make without losing touch with what made them so exhilarating in the first place. Rest assured, re-recorded album or not, Klaxons are still very much in their own wonderfully psychedelic netherworld. The only difference is that now they’re making more room for everyone else to squeeze inside.