Skip to main content

Review of the Klaxons' Myths of the Near Future



Let’s be clear about this one: the hype surrounding the ‘nu rave’ scene in the past months has thrown up a host of bands that have less to do with E-fuelled fluorescent weirdos listening to the musical equivalent of a flea-bitten moggy being violently sick over your new carpet, and much more to do with a new breed of indie band, namely one which is in tune with the crackling variousness and potentiality of contemporary rock music.

Enter Klaxons. A three piece born out of Stratford-upon-Avon (you know, Shakespeare country) and Bournemouth, they’re smart, savvy, and worryingly fluorescent. But while many of their die-hard fans insist on brandishing glow-sticks at their gigs, and while the sirens and vocal loops scream out from their single, ‘Atlantis to Interzone’, their sound is one which reveals an impressive and stellar mesh of influences and ideas fighting for supremacy in the collective Klaxon mind. It’s like their trying to write weird and wonderful songs that stretch on into infinity armed only with the standard instruments of your average rock band: vocals, guitars, bass, and drums. Klaxons almost seem to be striving to do with contemporary music what the likes of Thomas Pynchon attempted to do with the modern novel: pick up the same tools as everyone else, craft something bizarre and initially unsettling, and transport the reader/listener and their expectations to somewhere at once bemusing and incredible. Perhaps an odd comparison, until you listen to first single ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ and realise that the Klaxon boys have done their homework.

Where the Klaxons shine, then, is in borrowing from rave’s and dance’s finer attributes: adding synths and loops to hone and refine their fizzling, Johnny Greenwood-esque guitars and rolling bass sounds to perfection. This is particularly evident on the aforementioned ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’, but also on the cosmically Muse-like and eerily-moving opener ‘Two Receivers’, and their impressive and soaring cover of Grace’s mid-nineties rave hit, ‘It’s Not Over Yet’. But while the Klaxons show much promise and live up to much more than the hysteria of being flag-bearers to a genre nobody seems to know much about, they are nonetheless somewhat limited by the resources at their disposal, as matched with their fantastical and interstellar musical ambitions. It’s all there in the alluringly strange and ambitious harmonics of their lyrics: songs about setting sail, travelling from Atlantis, floating on ‘silver waves through the skies’, even in one of the album’s surprise highlights, ‘Isle of Her’, a song about rowing towards paradise, notably inspired by Greek mythology. The Klaxons want to soar: their diverse range of literary, mythological, cultural, and musical influences fighting for space in songs that vary from a couple of minutes in length to six minute stompers. But often they’re held back, either by their collective tremulous vocals not quite matching the demands that their songs make of them, or by too many sounds and ideas clunking about tunes that would benefit from being tidied and tightened. But then this is only their first album, and I’ve got high hopes for the Klaxons’ future efforts. After all, in the space of a year they’ve been plucked from relative obscurity and have churned out an album that’s on a different (and in my opinion, much more habitable and colourful) planet than that which the Arctic Monkey’s did as 2006’s surprise success. For while your listening to the Franz Ferdinand crackle and throb of ‘Totem on the Timeline’ one minute (with its decidedly weird line ‘At Club 18-30 I met Julius Caesar, Lady Diana and Mother Theresa’), suddenly Klaxons spring the surprise of follower ‘As Above, So Below’, a song that has more in common with Belle and Sebastian and the Scissor Sisters than anything else. And it’s this ability to blend diverse influences with artistic integrity and, crucially, a sense of fun, that ultimately makes Myths of the Near Future such an impressive debut. Not to mention one that bodes well for the band’s future.

http://www.myspace.com/klaxons

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry in Motion

POETRY IN MOTION
Why one Reds supporter is committing his love for Liverpool FC to verse


Liverpool FC and poetry have a lot of previous – from John Toshack’s Gosh It’s Tosh collection in the late 70s, to the verse of Dave Kirby and Peter Etherington in the fanzine Red All Over the Land, to the lines written by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, a University of Liverpool graduate, in the aftermath of 2012’s Hillsborough findings. Now there’s Ben Wilkinson, Reds fan and book critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, who’s compiling a series of poems commemorating the club’s legends. “Football is part of the fabric of life, and anything that’s important to people finds its way into poetry,” he says. “Wilfred Owen’s poem 'Disabled' describes a soldier who loses the use of his legs, meaning he can never play football again. Philip Larkin’s 'MCMXIV' compares boys queuing to join the army to fans outside Villa Park. These poems have stood the test of time because t…

About the Author

Welcome to the website of the English poet and critic, Ben Wilkinson.
Ben was born in Staffordshire and now lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He received his first degree from the University of Sheffield, and holds an MA and PhD from Sheffield Hallam University. He has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Poetry Business Competition and a 2014 Northern Writers' Award
His debut full collection of poems, Way More Than Luck, appeared from Seren Books in February 2018.
He is a keen distance runner, lifelong Liverpool Football Club fan, and among other things he works as poetry critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. You can find many of his reviews on this site.
To contact Ben about readings, workshops, or for any other enquiries, you can drop him a line at benwilko(at sign)gmail.com. Unfortunately, I am not able to consider unsolicited requests from authors for book reviews.

You can follow Ben on Twitter - @BenWilko85 - and on Facebook.

You can find B…

Way More Than Luck (Seren Books, 2018)

From the thumping heartbeat of the distance runner to the roar of football terraces across the decades, Ben Wilkinson’s debut confronts the struggles and passions that come to shape a life. Beginning with an interrogation of experiences of clinical depression and the redemptive power of art and running, the collection centres on a series of vivid character portraits, giving life to some of football's legends. By turns frank, comic, sinister and meditative – ‘the trouble with you, son, is that all your brains are in your head’ – these poems uncover the beautiful game’s magic and absurdity, hopes and disappointments, as striking metaphors for our everyday dramas. Elsewhere there are tender love poems, political satire and strange dream worlds, in an urgently lyrical book of poems that take many forms and modes of address: pantoum, sonnet, sestina; epistle, confession, dramatic monologue. All are united by a desire to speak with searching clarity about matters of the heart. Way More …