Friday, December 14, 2007

THE KLAXONS, Myths of the Near Future
Observer Music Monthly, January 21, 2007

by Simon Reynolds

If you find all the hype ‘n’ hoopla about Nu-Rave mystifying and can’t understand why anyone would hark back to the days of glowsticks and gurning, just visit the site Hardcore Will Never Die and check out the archived rave footage. Not only was rave the last blast of full-tilt futurism in mainstream UK music, it was also a full-blown movement, the complete youth culture package with its own style, slang, dance-moves, and rituals. An eruption of madness on a mass scale, rave’s Dionysian daftness is infinitely preferable to the pall of cool that has ruled UK music since at least The Strokes. No wonder, then, that new bands looking for nourishment have turned to the early ‘90s, especially now that postpunk’s been tapped to exhaustion.

So there’s no mystery to the Klaxons’s invocations of rave, which stretch from their name (a nod to air-horns tooted by E monsters) to their covers of Kicks Like A Mule’s “The Bouncer” and Perfecto All-Stars’ “It’s Not Over” to naming their prettiest tune “Golden Skans” after a spectacular lighting fixture boasted about on rave flyers back in the day. What does mystify is why the Klaxons draw so little on rave’s sonic principles. Rather than samples, synth-stabs, and programmed beats, they use indie’s standard-format of guitar/bass/drums, occasionally chucking in a noise that sounds like a “rave alert” siren-riff from some ancient Belgian techno anthem, but mostly sounding like a rowdier take on Franz Ferdinand’s dance-punk. Or like Panic At The Disco! actually trying to play disco.

It’s this emo-like quality of feverish melodrama that really connects the Klaxons to rave’s E-motional hysteria. That, plus the fantastical lyrics, with their imagery of treasure, grandeur, adventure, and vision-quest, which come across like Baby D’s “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” meets Frank Herbert’s Dune. “Forgotten Works” declares “light the bridges with the lanterns… we’ll meet at the mirrored statue”, “Two Receivers” urges “run through the glow,” and “As Above So Below” oscillates between the trippy abstraction of “galloping beams faster/joining together and still faster” and the boggling bizarritude of “whippoorwill in flight turns west to East Failure.”

What’s endearing about The Klaxons is their lack of cool, and their confusion. You get the sense they don’t know quite what they’re aiming for, and the resulting mish-mash of crude energy and epic ambition leaves the listener gloriously befuddled Sometimes you suspect that this enjoyably queasy sensation comes from the band simply using the wrong tools for the job--trying to make their slightly shaky voices soar like house divas, or build a non-rock music using bog-standard rock instrumentation. The best thing on Myths of the Near Future is the most wrong-sounding: “Isle of Her”, a wheezing ‘n’ clanking song with Greek mythology-inspired lyrics about sea-farers rowing in search of an Mediterranean paradise: “seven more miles today… we’ll find peacocks there… just keep on going.” “Isle of Her” sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard, and in that sense if no other is truer to spirit of ‘92 than a meticulously accurate reproduction of a rave anthem.

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