Sunday, January 28, 2007

Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future

It’s a good omen for 2007 that the year has been kicked into life by an album more concerned with breakdowns and euphoria than limp ska and meat’n’veg punk. Odd though that it’s a rock album. The Klaxons’ "Myths of the Near Future" is a thunderbolt of indie pop lasting a little under 40 minutes and boasting a clutch of potential singles fit to chase the last stragglers out of the manufactured pop party.

Dubbing themselves 'new rave' in collusion with the NME, Klaxons have pulled off that most spectacular of feats and actually gone boldly against the numb prevailing wind of angular post-punk fashion. The very idea of such a bold identity in such self-conscious times is enough to inspire change and this feels like an important album for that reason alone.

What seems to be puzzling most commentators is quite what they have to do with the last great spontaneous youth revolution of less media-literate times. They don't sound 'rave', in fact they recall nothing quite so much as the melodic Brit indie of the late 80s/early 90s - hardly a hip reference point. True, "Atlantis To Interzone" features air-horns and the album includes their cover of mid-nineties house anthem "It's Not Over Yet" by Grace. But, by-and-large, Klaxons' fundamentally conservative modus operandi manages to remind us just how innovative the Fisher Price anthems of '92 actually were.

If there's rave afoot here, it's in the band's valiant attempt to topple the self-awareness that set in when retrograde old rock'n'roll smugly triumphed over dance music's final bloated emissions at the turn of the century. Klaxons are clearly utopian in their adoption of the literary language of Pynchon and Ballard and its the embrace of futures possible that really aligns them with the spirit of rave. A point missed by some observers, keen to discredit their failure to measure up to rave aesthetics. (There are obvious parallels between this branch of utopianism, arriving as it does whilst we’re counting out the days remaining under Blair, and rave's utopian party in the last days of the Thatcher era).

Away from the stage-focused scrutiny of the indie gig but not quite back to the ego-free immersion into the synchronized whole of the dancefloor, there's an awkwardness to this band lodged between the past and future. You can hear the friction in the music. But that's where the adrenaline in their otherwise fairly formal - and often very good - songwriting has come from. Luckily for them, their more recent creations are arguably even better, stripped of obvious Rave signifiers. Latest single "Golden Skans" - an ode to the hi-tech lights that decorated raves the Klaxons aren't old enough to remember - surges with enough spine-tingling joy to match any amount of piano house.

Consider then that this band only formed a little more than a year ago and you can only hope that the hypermedia of 2007 doesn't burn them out before they get really good.


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