‘We’re the masters of illusion’ sings Klaxons’ Jamie Reynolds on their third album’s opening track, A New Reality. But are they? Or are they just confidence tricksters?
Klaxons have always been second-guessing the zeitgeist. When they emerged in 2007 with Myths Of The Near Future, an album that committed daylight robbery by pipping Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black to the Mercury Music Prize, they declared themselves the ringleaders of nu-rave, a scene that largely involved playing dance music gratingly and unconvincingly on indie guitars.
Their follow-up, 2010’s Surfing The Void, found them working with Slipknot producer Ross Robinson and consequently ladling ugly metal riffs over their club beats. Boasting of recording it under the influence of Peruvian hallucinogens, they undermined their cosmic affectations by wedging their tongue too obviously into their collective cheek.
This time around they are back on the dancefloor but once again they sound too brittle, clever-clever and try-hard. The beats are too calculated, the production too compressed. Lead-off single There Is No Other Time blatantly aims for the airy, easy, sexy languor of Pharrell’s Get Lucky, but unlike that pop masterpiece it is thin, shrill and utterly soulless.
It’s fitting that they made use of Brian Eno’s infamous Oblique Strategies while making this record: it sounds over-thought and counter-intuitive throughout. Out Of The Dark is far too banally positivist for such sharp conceptualists; Show Me A Miracle sounds like an aimless spoof of Nineties chart-pop. The closing, title track has a sweet melody and a winning faux-innocence, but by then it is far too little, too late.
Klaxons will go on appealing to bearded, rimless-specs-sporting lovers of ironic music that unfolds within figurative quotation marks. This album will be massive in London's hipster-friendly Shoreditch.