Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Klaxons Clean it Up

Nostalgic readers of roughly my age will be pleased to hear that Klaxons have a new album out. It's called Love Frequency and it came out about a fortnight ago. I haven't listened to it yet, but it seems to have elicited a somewhat lukewarm response from critics.

But what I want to talk about is the artwork. The Klaxons have released three albums to date; here are their covers, side by side:

From left to right: Myths of the Near Future (2007), Surfing the Void (2010), Love Frequency (2014)

Criminy. I'll concede that Surfing the Void's space-cat was a little more minimal than Near Future's psych-bug collage thing, but this new one is barely even there. It's like if Enter Shikari released an album of minimalist piano music (that's right, today's theme is 'Noisy Buzz Bands of 2007').

But this newfound fondness for visual simplicity isn't necessarily any reflection on the music, right? For all I know, Love Frequency could be the band's barmiest, bonkers-est album yet. And that's why I've decided to break my 'no listening until I've bought it' rule and have a quick go on Love Frequency's lead single, There is No Other Time. Come listen with me, and we'll see if the new sound is as whiplash-inducing as the new look:

Hm. Now, maybe it's all the S Club 7 I've been listening to lately, but that song really reminds me of S Club 7. More specifically, it reminds me of an S Club 7 remix; it's clean, it's  kind of uplifting, and it sounds like club music, which I suppose is in-keeping with the druggy album artwork (it's supposed  to look like an ecstasy tablet, right?)

I guess it still sounds like the Klaxons, but it also confirms the fear that was ignited by that album cover: they sound far more polite now than they did before. The lead single from Myths of the Near Future was either (depending on how you count it) Gravity's Rainbow, with its squidgy, nervous-sounding bassline, or Atlantis to Interzone, with its frantic delivery and unashamed use of Yamaha's 'DJ' setting.

But gone, it seems, are the yelping literary references and the incessantly catchy, blue Smartie-scoffing hooks. It seems like Love Frequency has gone down a route that's far closer to the middle of the road.

This is all based on one listen to one song, of course, so it's hardly gospel. Heck, I'll probably still buy the album just to get the bigger picture - after all, James Murphy had a hand in this, so it can't all be bad. But I will miss the barmy, neon Klaxons from days of yore; it appears that Myths of Near Future will forever remain a total one-of-a-kind.

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