Sound — 6
Klaxons had a massive debut album in 2007 ("Myths of the Near Future"), defining their sound and gaining a somewhat modest fanbase. The rock/'new-rave' thing became the band's signature, their 'calling card'. All that does bleed onto this album too, but with no-where near as much thought, skill or originality as was on their debut. For the most of the album, the music seems lack hooks, catchy tunes and apparent skill. The experimental influence is clear, but whether it truely works for the band on CD is sceptical.
The lack of impact that this album has made on me may be down to hearing previous hit singles (Golden Skans, Not Over Yet) and being forced to compare them. I believe that the music could have been so much better. The drums, bass and keyboards work, yet are quite dull and tedious. The guitar is over-blown with effects and if displays no apparent skill in the playing. The tracks Valley of Calm Trees and Venusia are pretty catchy (much more so than most of the album), but the former is let down by the lack of skill/effort in parts of the playing.
On record, tracks like Surfing The Void sound so experimental-rock that they're a little messy. The same goes for Flashover, to an extent. Zane Lowe of Radio 1 once said that it was to be the best track of 2010, but that kind of proves that you can't always rely on the opinions of presenters/popular media figures. Flashover is alright, but nothing on this album qualifies as 'The Best of 2010' in any respect. And Flashover is by no means the best track on the album - even Echoes, the first single of the album, isn't one of the better tracks. Like most of the album, it's mediocre at best.
Lyrics — 7
The vocals are typical of what Klaxons have done traditionally. The melodies are of the higher register, with their usual lower octave vocal underneath. There's no harmonies as such, just the octave - don't expect to be impressed in this area. It's probably a good thing that they didn't over-do the album with harmonies, because it's not what their really known for. The whole high vocal/octave thing is easily recognisable as Klaxons, and it litters this album on most of the tracks.
The lyrics are fairly simple, but not bad at all. They aren't cheap or cheesy, but aren't incredibly inspired either. The most of the words are about speed, space or something equally grand, giving this album a kind of 'concept-album' feel (although saying that, most Muse songs are about something spacey, but they don't really do concept albums). The titles Surfing The Void, Valley of Calm Trees, Flashover, Cypherspeed all provide that epic feel. Overall, the vocals aren't incredibly impressive, but they work - that's what matters.
Overall Impression — 6
In brief, it's fair to say that the band are capable of producing truely great things, which is why they've won awards in the past. But the material on this album is really drab when you compare it to what they've previously done. Klaxons really are a live band more than anything, so the spirit of their music cannot be captured properly on CD. This album is probably one that you'd maybe listen to once then stick on the shelf. There's bound to be a selection of people out there that will love this album no end, I'm certain of that. But the general public or even big indie-rock fans won't be big on this album. Like I said, this band is a live band more than anything. The soul of their music comes from that live energy. The energy on here is rather flat without the visual aspect, it's fair to say...