Klaxons: Myths of the Near Future
If there ever were a search for a dizzying amalgamation of mind and body, and in a flawlessly indie fashion no less, the undeniable winner would be the literary, pulsing dazzle of Britain’s Klaxons. On their Mercury Prize-winning 2007 debut ‘Myths of the Near Future’, they manage to mesh together the disparate spheres of dance and indie rock with a cohesive coolness that hurtles them far and beyond fellow contemporaries such as LCD Soundsystem and Datarock. The corresponding thirty-six-minute dance-rock explosion makes for some frantic, yet thoroughly enjoyable pandemonium.
What sets this New Cross trio apart from the rest is their ability to craft musically alluring tracks, peppered with amusingly absurd lyrics: they sprint through mentions of Julius Caesar, the year 4000, Thailand’s Koh Phangan, and centaurs with inimitable ease and breathtaking bizarreness. The abundance of obscure literary references, thrown in between the authentic nonsense, also distinguishes this threesome: for example, the album takes its name from a short story collection by the Briton J G Ballard, and the track “Gravity’s Rainbow” has its etymological roots in the notoriously difficult Pyncheon novel of the same name. Throughout the album, arcane allusions to the cosmos and outer-space abound, befitting of the often ethereal, sci-fi geekiness of their sound itself.
The album opens with decreasingly distant timpani beats on “Two Receivers”, aptly heralding the urgent otherworldliness that characterises their brand of noise, and gives way to frenetic vocals and the shrill screams of their namesake on the energetic “Atlantis to Interzone”. “Magick” starts off with macabre electronica but caves into unexpectedly groovy drumming and chant-like vocals, while the initial throbbing bass line of “Gravity’s Rainbow” could pass for an Arctic Monkeys track — of course, until one gets to the typical babbling of madcap Medusae and Tangian deserts (whatever those are). This spontaneous switching of atmosphere — say, from an impenetrable wall of grungy guitars to exquisitely vulnerable vocals (often within a few seconds of the same song) — forms the essence of the haphazard, barely-contained energy that the Klaxons barrage the bewildered ear with. Delectable production, provided by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, does ample justice to the band. In fact, Ford also played the drums for most of the tracks on the album, enhancing the already formidable sound with an emphatic precision comparable to the likes of Portland’s Menomena.
With a sonic signature evocative of a hybrid of Hercules and Love Affair and Hot Chip balanced with a healthy dash of !!! and a touch of Foals, the Klaxons create a surprisingly functional chaos of noise and ambience, and often with a brooding complexity deeper than is immediately apparent. However, the illogical and often unintelligible lyrics may be a turn off for some; also, several songs contain sections that don’t transition between one another quite as smoothly as the more remarkable parts of the album. But in spite of everything, the Klaxons have endowed the world with a record that slips in and out of indie rock, dance, electronica, punk, and everything else in between with a glorious, awe-inspiring agility. Joining the ranks of NME-championed bands may not be an easy thing to live up to, but for the most part, the Klaxons, with their hysterical energy and almost surreal lyrics, manage to validate the hype to a decent level, and that’s certainly more than can be said for all but the best of them. Recommended.