Ah, Klaxons. Occasionally loud, brash, chaotic and very, very annoying, there’s often a clear alignment between the band’s name and their music. And lifestyle too, apparently; well, in the early days, at least.
But things have changed since the trio emerged from New Cross, announcing their arrival by scooping the coveted Mercury Prize with debut album Myths Of The Near Future in 2007. Since an initially riotous existence that resembled a 24-hour party lifestyle, Jamie Reynolds, James Righton and Simon Taylor-Davies have grown up somewhat, having now all turned 30, with Righton even bagging himself a Hollywood superstar wife, Keira Knightley, last year.
Over the last seven years, their music has also changed. Initially tagged with the ‘nu-rave’ label, the second album was rejected by their label Polydor for being too experimental. It was subsequently re-recorded and released in 2010 as Surfing The Void, a far heavier effort lacking anything that could be considered to be rave of any sort.
New album Love Frequency marks another change of direction, heading towards a danceable synthpop sound. Mainly recorded in East Sussex at the home of The Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands, the album has been preceded by lead single There Is No Other Time, a dancefloor filler for sure. Set to a pulsing synth beat, light vocals float above to create a catchy number and with the song enjoying substantial Radio 1 airplay it’s a high profile, if largely uninspiring, poppy return set to divide their fanbase.
The song’s b-side, Children Of The Sun, is a beat heavy stomp with underlying deep bass tones, something you could see the boys from Lord Of The Flies worshipping before a sacrificial ceremony, while album opener A New Reality recalls the more chaotic cuts often favoured by the band, a dreamy synth intro then exploding into a cacophonous, erratic sounding synth melody. It epitomises the entire collection – average electronic heavy dance-flavoured tracks that ultimately feel a little weak.
Show Me A Miracle is another bland effort, something that could easily sit in the repertoire of a boyband, the “follow me, follow me now” lyrics making you want to do the opposite. Out Of The Dark treads a similar path, sounding all very ’80s ‘pomp and dazzle’ dancefloor-like that will probably make for a regular spot at the sort of nightclubs where corny lyrics like “let me into your light so that I can find my way home” won’t matter to the dancing masses.
Invisible Forces features rapid percussion and dynamic electric guitar that blend with a house vibe, making for an interesting mixture, while Rhythm Of Life isn’t bad, per se, but the samey samey vocals are by this point starting to grate. The Dreamers walks a slightly different path, a subtle glam rock tribal drum beat providing the canvas for another electronica-strong cut before the title track closes the album in familiar fashion; another up tempo dance number reveals itself which, when taken on its own merits, probably provides one of the album’s better moments.
Listening to Love Frequency from start to finish, however, is a chore. There simply isn’t enough variation, with the overwhelming presence of Righton’s one dimensional vocals lacking allure after a few tracks and the invariable electronica also doing little to excite or surprise. It’ll bring in a few new fans that want something fresh to dance to – and the trio do still retain an air of freshness despite the monotony within the album – but Love Frequency is certainly not 2014’s Random Access Memories, that’s for sure.