Listening to Klaxons’ third album, a disquieting thought recurs: is this really how the former MDMA sages of New Cross Gate imagined their own near future to sound? The trio have spent almost three years recording ‘Love Frequency’ with a cast of ‘computer music’ luminaries including James Murphy, Erol Alkan, Gorgon City and Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers. Yet, the end result scales back the space-rock excess of 2010’s ‘Surfing The Void’, itself a dialed-down version of the madness they originally intended to follow their Mercury-winning debut with. Now, with no need to keep wilder impulses in check, you might have thought the hour was nigh for, say, a synth-metal concept opus about the esoteric voyages of the Count of St Germain. Alas…
Yet there’s something just as perverse about parting ways with your major label only to make the album you always hoped you would. ‘There Is No Other Time’ and ‘Show Me A Miracle’ were no Eurodance bait-and-switch: Klaxons have long claimed to be a pop band at heart, and this is the closest to an outright pop record they’ve ever made. In many ways, it’s a successful one – had it been released five years ago, ‘Love Frequency’ would have consolidated the success of ‘Myths Of The Near Future’ instead of undoing it. Despite the claim that no drugs were involved in its making, there’s an unmistakable first-pill purity about ‘Children Of The Sun’ and ‘Invisible Forces’, with its unapologetically-cheesy Italo-house piano riff, that suggests Klaxons have finally learned to embrace that side of themselves without couching it in irony.
Still, the sedition and subversiveness of old is missing. The arcane literary references, the cabalistic philosophies, the thrilling sense of a band who never quite knew what the hell they were doing… all that stuff has been sidelined in favour of something more immediate and easily-digestible, and a few songs – ‘Rhythm Of Life’ and ‘Out Of The Dark’ particularly – are a bit too generic to hold your attention. It all adds to the perception of ‘Love Frequency’ as a regression rather than a progression, albeit one some might argue is overdue. Yet while it is maddeningly catchy in places and well put together, its defining characteristic is a conservative streak that sits strangely with this most anarchical of bands.