Klaxons – Surfing the Void
Release Date: August 23rd, 2010
Record Label: Polydor Records
Reigning from London, Klaxons released their second full-length album Surfing the Void in 2010, though its futuristic sound makes it just as plausible as a release from the year 2210. Sporting album art that makes the band easily identifiable by any remotely serious web browsing music lover, Surfing the Void is a galactic rollercoaster ride that embodies the raw, “I don’t give a f***” energy of punk music, as well as the liveliness and immediate allure of pop music.
A string of complications arose surrounding the release of Surfing the Void when their label, Polydor, resented their more experimental approach this time around. Klaxons vocals/bassist, Jamie Reynolds, echoed this sentiment and so the band moved forward, changing producers and approaching the recording in a new light. All of these events resulted in a three year gap between Surfing and the bands debut release Myths of the Near Future, which featured the popular and jaunty “Golden Skans”. While the two albums are not wildly different, and both proudly shout, “We are Klaxons!” you can tell the sense of experimentation was not entirely scrapped.
Upon listening to the album opener, “Echoes”, I realized that it was the first time I found a song both haunting and dancey at the same time. This is a skill Klaxons prove to be proficient at more than once on this record. The albums title track “Surfing the Void” opens with a chaotic, in your face fury of sound, which continues without rest for the entire song. Between the vocally abrasive chorus and chromatically descending guitars, it feels like the mirrors in a fun house are closing in on you. The only difference is listening to that song is something I would willingly put myself through again. “Twin Flames” demonstrates a slightly softer edge of the album. It features one of the catchiest choruses on the record and is one of the few moments in which you don’t feel like you’re under attack by an enemy spacecraft.
Lyrically Surfing the Void tends to be abstract and done in a somewhat poetic approach at times. For example, on the track “Valley of the Calm Trees” they reference an out of production commercial jet, “The destination/unfamiliar sands/ amongst the ice fog/ a DC-8 awaits/ our means of travel/ to visionary worlds.” It’s that kind of two word phrasing that makes me think I don’t understand it either because it’s far to prolific and beyond my comprehension or that psychedelic drugs simply aren’t an integral enough part of my life to fully appreciate it.
I commend producer Ross Robinson, whose past work already proves him to be more than capable, with lending a hand in creating the atmosphere and space that makes this album what it is. The often muffed out bass guitar adds significantly to the dirty, but driving force behind most all the songs on the album. The keys, pads, effects on the guitars and processing on the vocals all contribute to creating the memorable environment in which Surfing the Void resides. For that reason, this album excels in creating a motif that remains analogous from start to finish. The visual imagery created by the music is strong, the same way that you can vividly picture an environment and characters in a well-written book. With that being said, if you are not prepared to be immersed in a world of sci-fi punk for 40 minutes you may find yourself failing to last the entire journey. One song that exhibits imagery particularly well is “Extra Astronomical”. The song opens up with the kind of alarming siren you might hear when you have one minute remaining to exit a nuclear power plant before devastation occurs. This serves as an eerie precursor to the lyrics “celestial catastrophe” later heard in the song.
I listen to dance. I listen to punk. I listen to pop. But, it wasn’t until I listened to this album that I heard a cosmic combination of all three. Klaxons sustain a seamless blend of genre mending and mashing throughout Surfing the Void, which makes it a truly unique listening experience.
Finally someone has reviewed this album on here, and what an awesome job you have done. I agree completely with you on this effort. The album is not wholly brilliant but it is spectacular. How would you rate the three records they have released so far in order? I reviewed Landmarks of Lunacy if you want to check it out here. I found it to be better than the actual second album surprisingly.
also, lol at rating Taylor Swifts album as the same as this
Haha, I didn't realize they ended up being the same rating. I kind of resent the way the review scoring system pans out, that's why I added "Letter Grade Rating" section, but that's still pretty funny...anyway, thanks for the kind words. I read your review and really enjoyed it too. I honestly haven't even listened to that record though! Just 'Surfing the Void' and recently 'Myths of the Near Future' for comparison sake while composing the review, so I wouldn't be able to accurately say.