Release Date: Aug 23, 2010
Record label: Polydor
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
After three years of creative back-and-forth with their label (the band was told to go back to the drawing board in 2009 when the album they presented was deemed “too experimental”), Klaxons are finally releasing Surfing the Void, the follow-up to the acclaimed 2007 debut Myths of the Near Future. Fans of the group’s infectious melodies will find themselves challenged by the album, which avoids the sophomore slump by boldly coloring outside the lines. The titular track is frenzied and slapdash, a discordant punk gem that eschews order in favor of controlled chaos.
Klaxons specialize in bangers. Massive, uncompromising experiments in stadium-shattering sing-a-long bombast, they’ve assaulted the British charts for a good reason, their spectacle-first substance-later methodology of songwriting has done them a lot of favors commercially. They haven’t done too badly with the critics either, as Myths of the Near Future made a surprisingly good name for itself, even in the usually apprehensive American music press.
Right there in the first paragraph of producer Ross Robinson’s Wikipedia page is a terrifying nickname, one which follows a rather dire list of career highlights: “The Godfather of Nu Metal. ” But for Klaxons, a band who never seemed entirely comfortable with being tagged as “New Rave” themselves, the idea of looking beyond labels must have held considerable appeal. Record labels have long been vilified for stifling artistic freedom in pursuit of the almighty dollar, and in the past decade the corporate structure has taken further hits for the perception that its been dragging its collective heels into the digital age.
Let's not bullshit: That is an album cover for the ages, but it's disappointing that a LOLcat in a spacesuit has done a better job of causing stateside excitement for the Klaxons' new LP than the band's debut, Myths of the Near Future. Back home in the UK, Klaxons won the 2007 Mercury Prize with that album, gave bombastic interviews that namedropped Pynchon and the KLF, and had four hit singles plus a handful of other songs that could have been. But in the U.S., Myths seemed victimized by the same distrust of UK next-big-things that also hamstrung Arctic Monkeys and Foals and ended up being a strange combination of overhyped and underrated.
As the tapping of a typewriter signals the end of 'Venusia',Surfing the Void's mid-point, one can only imagine the levels of critical ambivalence being punched out on the keypad. Ever since 2007's Myths Of The Near Future announced Klaxons' arrival in spectacular style, the doubters have been queuing up to preempt the band's failings and ultimately, decree the extremely difficult follow-up album would never actually see the light of day at all. With one false start after another, poorly received showcase performances, songs written and recorded before being dropped in an instant and the occupant of the producer's seat changing before the final furlong, it's been a fraught three years since the release of their debut.
Whether or not you think Klaxons deserved to beat Amy Winehouse and Bat for Lashes to win the 2007 Mercury prize, you have to admit it made for good telly. Visibly under the influence, the quartet seemed genuinely gobsmacked by their good fortune. Firm in the belief that an entertaining lie is preferable to a mundane truth, they then told reporters that they planned to invest their winnings in research into telepathy.
Nu rave felt like a distant memory by the time Klaxons' second album Surfing the Void appeared, much longer than three years after their debut Myths of the Near Future kick-started the style’s day-glo mix of rock and dance, winning the Mercury Prize along the way. Accolades like these meant expectations were high for the band’s follow-up, especially from Klaxons’ label. Surfing the Void had a famously difficult birth, with an entire album’s worth of songs scrapped for being “too uncommercial” and aborted sessions with Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford among other producers.
Review Summary: An album fixated with the intergalactic ironically sees Klaxons crashland back on Earth. The big story in Klaxonworld since 2007's unexpectedly successful Myths of the Near Future comes not with the release of Surfing the Void, despite its status as one of 2010's most anticipated follow-ups - it came with the announcement in 2009 that the band had recorded an entire album for release, and the label had rejected it on the grounds it was 'too weird' and 'too experimental'. Indie fans have a tendency to react to stories like that in a really puerile way ('yeah, stick it to the man, bro!'), but the right way to feel about that story is to be disappointed and deflated; although there are famous exceptions (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Kamal the Abstract), record labels are rarely wrong about these things on the whole, and although Klaxons have always a weird band, the reason Myths of the Near Future was such a special, attention-grabbing record was because of the hooks.
In the original Terminator flick, there’s a memorable sequence that takes place in a dimly lit, cyberpunk-ish club known as Tech Noir. It’s there that James Cameron’s dark, claustrophobic vision for the film—where the present day is beset by anxieties of a violent, irrevocable future—comes together perfectly as he portrays a sweaty, messy musical subculture that’s more battleground than safe haven. Listening to Surfing the Void, Klaxons’s follow-up to their 2007 debut Myths of the Near Future, it sounds as if the English dance-punk revelers would be right at home in the shadowy pit of Tech Noir: As they demonstrated with their screechy cover of Grace’s 1995 U.K.
The story of Klaxons’ Surfing the Void eclipsed the music 18 months ago, when Jamie Reynolds acknowledged that the band members had returned to the studio to record new songs after their label, Polydor, told them to rewrite their sophomore album because the now-deleted album was “too dark and experimental.” What kind of band does that? Retreat into the studio to try to pump out an album the stuffed suits they work for want? These guys don’t have artistic integrity by the boatload, basically. So here it is, Surfing the Void, the album Universal wanted. And unsurprisingly, it sounds exactly like how a suit would expect a Klaxons album to sound.
For those keeping score of notable indie rock releases featuring furry felines, Klaxons' new Surfing The Void is third this year. Wavves and Best Coast both have cat-fancying album covers, but Klaxons, with their giggling ode to astro-cats, are the clear winners in this ludicrous category. If only the music on Surfing measured up to that photo. [rssbreak] Three years removed from a massively hyped debut, and with a first draft of their sophomore reportedly returned to sender by the label, Klaxons sought direction from L.A.
Against the odds, it might be time to sit up and pay Klaxons some respect. Andy Fyfe 2010 Who are these people, and in which stinking Shoreditch alley have they dumped the soiled, miaow-riddled body of new rave? Three years ago Klaxons were painted as the spurious genre’s idiot storm troopers by a music media who made the whole thing up anyway before ditching the band to free up valuable column inches for the altogether more pressing business of reporting Pete Doherty’s drug farts. Meanwhile, the trio’s nods to 90s rave culture – some bright hoodies and squelchy synths – instantaneously earned them the ire of ‘serious’ critics who hoped the whole dreadful racket would simply do the decent thing and fall on its own glowstick.