I respect the Klaxons for going from nobodies to headliners in the U.K. on the strength of their live show and two strong singles. No band could conceivably have better buzz preceding the release of its debut. And look at what the band has already had to deal with: It’s had to overcome a (purportedly) unwanted nu-genre media label (“new rave”) and has been criticized as preying on a fan base derided as youthfully ignorant, that it’s more about the glow sticks than it is about the music.
It’s not a dig at Klaxons to say that Myths of the Near Future is a respectable effort firmly in the dance-indie tradition. But there’s nothing here to back up the breathless claims of the British music press. (“The most thrilling and visionary band Britain’s had in more than a decade,” said the NME.) Seemingly, the band members’ intellectual ambition set them apart from every other indie-rock band that uses double-time, distorted bass and falsetto vocals. Inspired by the Futurist Manifesto yet embracing a “nostalgic” fuck-you anti-technology approach (“Glow sticks look great. They look better than holding your mobile phone in the air,” Klaxon Jamie Righton was recently quoted as saying.) On paper, the band seems a compelling blend of smarts and a good time.
It’s in the other areas where Myths of the Near Future falls flat. So eager are Klaxons to prove they’re not one-trick “new ravers” that they fall into contemporary dance-rock conventions. Not much to distance their sound from the big beat, peppy, “we’re playing drum machine beats on actual drums!” sentiment that runs rampant in today’s rock clubs. “Totems on the Tagline” and “Two Receivers,” both catchy, bouncy songs, fail to elevate into originality, mining tired dance-rock melodies, pace and breaks.
And it’s not that the music on Myths of a Near Future doesn’t bump. The production is stepped up from last year’s Xan Valleys EP, giving previously released singles like “Atlantis to Interzone” and “Gravity’s Rainbow” a spit-shine without detracting from the buzzed-out charm. Those stand-outs show the greatest innovation, and it’s no coincidence that these were the songs that caught the ear of tastemakers in the British press and inspired the (albeit smelly) new-rave tag.
In a music landscape that relies on the styles of the ’80s and ’90s as much as the previous generation mined the blues, adding rave sounds seemed a clever and novel E-xperiment. But here, Klaxons have wilted in an effort to distance themselves from an unwieldy media tag. The thrill is gone.