Album Review

Surfing The Void

Surfing The Void

by Klaxons


Polydor
4 / 10
11th October 2010

Reviewed by Gareth Meade


It’s unlikely that there is anyone who rues the day the words ‘nu’ and ‘rave’ were brought together more than the Klaxons. It instantaneously bestowed upon them a cultural significance that their collective shoulders were never going to be able to bear. The proof is in the three years since the release of their debut, whereby the recording and release of a follow-up album became a Herculean task unto itself. Just how experimental their label-rejected initial attempt at it was, we may never know, but the finished result most definitely kicks against the type and suggests that this is a band that never wants to see a glow stick ever again.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the pressure has obviously gotten to them. Surfing the Void echoes the approach of a Jackson Pollock painting; throw everything you have at a blank canvas in an attempt to create something of form and substance. But the problem is that where Pollock always succeeded, Klaxons have drenched their canvas until it has become an unrecognisable mess.

It’s not necessarily something you’ll pick up on the prog-rock freak-out ‘Echoes’, which opens the album. The band sounds confident, and perhaps more importantly, like they’re having fun. But it only takes a short while for it to become apparent that the cosmos referencing lyrics, intentionally jarring volume and segmented song structures are being delivered with a straight face. It’s nigh on impossible to take a song with a name like ‘Valley of the Calm Trees’ seriously, let alone when it opens with the lyrics “While passing through the clouds of diamond dust / As two mock suns arise beside our one.”

Klaxons do occasionally pull it off with so much aplomb that it’s hard not to get sucked in. ‘Flashover’ is a good example of reckless abandon gone right and it gives you the impression that this is what they were aiming for with the rest of the album. It’s still over the top nonsense, but it at least sounds like a song with a clear intention from start to finish.

Sadly there are so few times that this could be said of anything else on Surfing the Void. It’s basically prog-rave (which sounds as equally unappealing as nu-rave really), and if you have no idea what that means, just listen to closing track ‘Cypherspeed’ to find out. But be warned, once heard, it can never be unheard.




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