Myths of the Near Future
ne way to look at Klaxons is as the leaders of new rave, a movement they themselves named then backed away from as soon as they realized what was going on. New rave got its main source of media backing based on the fact that IPC’s finest were hungry for a new scene to praise, celebrate, and milk dry. Indeed, the NME tour this year is split into two distinct legs: one for meat ’n’ veg indie, the other for Klaxons and accompanying inept bandwagon-hoppers like Shitdisco. The reason they needed a new thing is simple: Kerrang! is taking the NME to the woodshed on a weekly basis in terms of sales figures because the average 16-year-old isn’t interested in dancing in the middle of a field in an oversized white t-shirt. (They’re interested in dancing like they do in the video for “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” with the fairy dust and everything.) The broadsheets jumped on board soon afterward, perhaps scared that emo is the first genre that’s cropped up without this generation of music critics’ permission, perhaps worried that they’re too old to understand what’s going on and were comforted by something that reminded them of when they were still young and relevant.
A more critical way of looking at them is that they just aren’t real. This clearly isn’t rave, or even a reinvention of rave. They’re an indie band with a half-decent gimmick. And listening to them you feel that they’ve not learned rave correctly: that they didn’t find it through searching through their older brother’s record collection, gatekeeper late-night DJs digging in the crates and opening the ears of the youth to something new, or a vociferous passion for music that led them to consume all and everything before settling upon the TB-303 as the answer to all of life’s concerns. No, this was rave learned through watching the BBC’s Stuart Maconie going “Rave? Oh aye, big fish little fish they called it—what were we thinking?” on cheap clip shows.
To which one could say, “so?” That’s what new bands do: they piss off purists. People trying to play bouncer to the entrance of rave, casting Klaxons off to one side because they’re not spending their nights and days thoroughly obeying the contemporary canon of electronica, are modern-day equivalents of guitar shop technicians in stained Pennywise t-shirts throwing darts at a picture of Avril Lavigne circa “Sk8r Boi.” They just don’t understand. Or, more likely, it wouldn’t help even if they did.
A more interesting way of looking at Klaxons is via frontman Jamie Reynolds’s recent revelation that the band are strict adherents to The Manual, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty’s 1988 step-by-step guide to achieving a number one single. One act who have managed to turn The Manual into a lengthy career is Scooter, who’ve also opted to take rave as their gimmicky centre. Unlike Klaxons, though, Scooter are prepared to be ridiculous, over the top, crass. Klaxons, perhaps tied to the ethos of chart indie more than chart dance, always seem keen to imbue their work with dignity, which has no place in rave. Anyway, the most Klaxons-relevant passage from The Manual:
Unwrap pop’s layers and what we are left with is the same old plate of meat and two veg that have kept generations of pop pickers well satisfied. The emotional appetite that chart pop satisfies is constant. The hunger is forever. What does change is the technology.Then again, you could always examine Myths of the Near Future by actually sitting down and listening to the music. The most striking thing about Klaxons is that they’re probably the “biggest” band in chart indie today, in terms of sound if not scope. Opener “Two Receivers” in particular has the kind of bass that was left behind when sensible people stopped caring about dance music circa 2001. Latter-day Leftfield would be a good, if vaguely insulting, comparison term here. Sometimes, “Golden Skans” especially, the band dip desperately close to Ian Brown territory. Maybe they, or at least their career, would have been better off in the long run if they’d just positioned themselves as slightly less funky Madchester revivalists. They’ve got enough vaguely post-punkish potboilers to sustain a career. Tracks like “Totem on the Timeline” showcase their main strengths: incessant, driving rhythms riding along with tight guitar work and the kind of dumbfuck, disposable lyrics that the kids cut rugs to these days.
But, no, we’re not going to review Myths of the Near Future via any of these approaches. New rave operates in a confined space, a room in which everyone is afraid to mention the elephant that’s squeezing them against the wall. It’s my duty as a music critic to pull Dumbo’s covering off so we can all look at him:
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2007-01-30