The Presets – Apocalypso
Modular Recordings (5/13/08)
Synthpop / Electro / House
The Presets, comprised of Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton, immediately became one of my favorite bands after I caught them on a tour with Ladytron in 2006, when the relatively unknown Australians caught my attention with their hard-hitting club tunes paired with onstage antics.
Their 2005 debut, Beams, contained songs that ranged from soft and delicate to pumped-up dance tracks, with the absolutely beautiful “The Girl and the Sea”, “Steamworks” and my then-personal favorite, “I Go Hard, I Go Home”. During their seemingly unending tour supporting that album, they took substantial notes and began writing material for this album.
The first single, “My People”, has been an instant club hit. And really, how could it not? Its hard, solid beats and direct party tone could make almost anyone want to immediately run to the dance floor. When the video for the second single, “This Boy’s in Love”, first leaked on YouTube, I couldn’t stop watching it. It’s ridiculously catchy—everything, from the strong vocals to the melody to the techno beat, work in perfect harmony. It has a genuine ’80s synthpop feel to it while being able to integrate more modern, Daft Punk-like beats to the synths, and still coming off as delightfully original. Almost as strong is “Talk Like That”, which is Laced with dirty beats and energetic vocals that make it a razor-sharp pop track.
“If I Know You” is another standout, as its bass pulsates while Hamilton’s voice alternatively croons during the verses and soars at the chorus. Not unlike “The Girl and the Sea”, the vocal offerings here definitely come from the heart.
The tracks that let the listener take a little bit of a breather would include the completely instrumental “Aeons” and “A New Sky”, both of which contain hints of an ’80s fuel, and while they are lofty enough to move to, they aren’t definitive dance tracks.
In all honesty, though, it seems to take a few more times than the first couple of listens to really start to appreciate Apocalypso as a whole. Unlike the rave reviews showered upon the band, my initial feeling was that the album just seemed to miss the mark. Its foundation was seemingly too similar to its predecessor. However, while It doesn’t stray too far from Beams, and while both albums are chock-full of dance tunes, the album really does stand very well on its own. The boys have a crisp, mature and more fully-formed sound here, and I fully intend on dancing my little girl heart out on their world tour!
Tags: Daft Punk