City Paper is not for tourists
For better or for worse, Klaxons were until recently the U.K. equivalent of MGMT. Both bands had debut albums fueled by psych-pop licks, sci-fi-spiked lyrics, tripped-out vids, and an acid-drenched aesthetic. That changed on their sophomore records: In MGMT’s case, the duo flipped the script and farted out Congratulations, a disappointing, surf rock-inspired mess. Klaxons, however, decided to keep mining the same ground that made their debut, Myths of the Near Future, a mainstream hit on their side of the Atlantic, and an indie one here. This was not easy for the London quartet—producers were switched out, sessions were scrapped, and songs were tossed into the dustbin (though the band claim it eventually will release an EP of outtakes, including a seven-minute waltz). Luckily, as soon as the space-age synths and ringing guitars kick in on “Echoes,” Surfing the Void’s triumphant opener, it’s clear Klaxons have found the light fantastic and are tripping it hardcore. The music remains a sharpened update of the U.K. dance-rock narrative, a mash-up of Happy Mondays’ druggy charm, The KLF’s pop sensibilities, and The Shamen’s rave-y madness. That cocktail serves the band well. “The Same Space” is a stomping slice of glitter rock, “Flashover” careens like an intergalactic-punk manifesto, and “Twin Flames” is a spiraling, swirling head-bobber. Still, there are a couple of bad trips: “Venusia” seems to be an appallingly blatant rip-off of Editors’ “All Sparks” and “Extra Astronomical” is paint-by-numbers space rock. If these slip-ups are partially redeemed, it’s by the album’s cover—a cat in a spacesuit?—which should make you wonder why the album isn’t titled I Kan Haz Klaxons. But that would probably be too 2007 for a group that’s always looked to futurists and fantasy writers for inspiration. Whether they’re mining the last millennium or the next one, though, Klaxons have created an album that’s a worthy soundtrack for now.