Love Frequency (Akashic / Sony Red)
Result: 2.8 / 5.0
If there’s one undeniable truth about British music these days, it’s the fact that the ubiquitous sound of EDM can be heard emanating from nearly every club, pub and pair of headphones. This is no surprise; the EDM juggernaut has been gaining momentum for at least the past two years, but it could be argued that the genesis of this can be found in the heady days of 2007 with the emergence of ‘nu-rave’. As someone who rode the nu-rave wave in all its neon glory, Klaxons were an inescapable force at the time, along with other bands like New Young Pony Club and Does It Offend You Yeah? (remember them?). But Klaxons were arguably the pioneers of indie-dance crossover music and served as the NME poster boys for the movement before being unceremoniously ditched on the release of their second album when the trend had all but died off. But EDM is now everywhere and the time seems right for the return of Klaxons in all their day-glow glory.
The first thing that strikes you about Love Frequency, the band’s third album, is the cover which features their newly stylised ‘K’ stamped on what definitely looks like an ecstasy tablet. This cheeky nod to the heady days of acid house is quite fitting as there is more than a touch of the 90s here, but slightly ironic cover art aside, Love Frequency‘s embracement of EDM is firmly at the forefront of this album. Opening track ‘A New Reality’ bursts into its intro with a looped Casio keyboard refrain overlaid with tight vocal harmonies before braking into a thumping four-on-the -floor exercise in sonic maximalism. This track is the closest thing to an ‘old school’ Klaxons song on this album and could sit comfortably next to anything on their debut. The track ‘There Is No Other Time’, chosen as the band’s lead single, shows Klaxons fully embracing the EDM ethos and pushing their pop side straight into the spotlight. However, the bouncing mid-tempo rhythms and verse-chorus-verse structure seems a little uninspired for a band that made a point of breaking boundaries with their early output, but everyone needs a ‘commercial’ hit on their album, right?
‘Children Of The Sun’, one of the album’s highlights, marches along menacingly with a confidently brash sound filed with distorted synths and some pretty dark production that bears more than a few hallmarks of Erol Alkan. There’s even some pretty nifty guitar work on the track that makes it sound like a cross between ZZ Top and entry level Justice. But this fuzed up, sinister sound is only a brief interlude as ‘Invisible Forces’, much like the album’s second single ‘Show Me A Miracle’, brings the album firmly back into EDM territory. The opening piano hook could have been taken straight out of a Baby D track and the calypso tinged beats and lyrical refrain of the chorus “You make me feel real” amp up the 90s feel to a near comical degree.
As the album closes with the title track, the ever present 90s piano sound bubbling under the surface, Klaxons continue to play it safe. The flanger heavy keyboard hooks and sixteen beat drums sound completely at home, but the track doesn’t feel like it reaches its full potential and seems to fizzle out just as it gets going. For the finale of what is essentially a dance album (which this is) you would expect to be blown away with a track designed to not only get the party started, but keep it going. Maybe there will be a 12″ mix at some point that will do the job.
As a whole, Love Frequency is more than capable of holding its own against the onslaught of 90s influenced EDM that has gradually saturated the musical landscape, and when it hits its highs, it’s difficult not to find yourself wanting to rush out and jump on your nearest dance floor, but all in all, these highs are few and far between.