If the album cover to Klaxons’ Surfing The Void carries any message (other than that of an astronautic pussy cat) it is one which acts as a visual metaphor of what the album holds in store for the listener. The strange effect of seeing this feline spaceman is very much like hearing the psychedelic, experimental indie that Klaxons produce.
This sound brought attention to the band back in 2007 with their debut Myths Of The Near Future, one of only a very few albums from the short lived ‘nu rave’ genre, a fusion of ‘90s rave and 21st century dance-indie. Three years later and Klaxons are back with their second album. Surfing The Void has that same manic energy that the previous album had, although this time that energy isn’t channelled through many particularly good songs. Most of the tracks have similar ingredients which have given the band their success before: the fantastic combined efforts of the bass and drums, the crazy synth noises floating around in the background the whole time, and the unmistakably odd Klaxons vocal harmonies. Sometimes this does work, with a couple of great songs on the album. Opening track ‘Echoes’ is a good indie number, as is album highlight ‘Twin Flames’, both of which are bound by great bouncy rhythms and see the band brilliantly coming together in their respective choruses. Similarly ‘Venusia’, with its ‘80s-sounding synths and punk vocals, is also a highlight of the album.
But for the rest of Surfing The Void, these ingredients don’t seem to be put together into songs which are consistent with what Klaxons are capable of. Whereas with earlier hits, Klaxons allowed you to step into their mad world and enjoy the music with them, Surfing The Void for the most part keeps you set apart from the music, preventing you from really getting into the songs in any way. Having opened so well on ‘Echoes’, the album then rapidly falls with second track ‘The Same Space’. Melodically the song sounds so promising, but is horribly ruined by an awkward slow drum beat which stops the song from ever taking off and being transformed into a classic Klaxons track. Title track ‘Surfing The Void’ is a bizarre offering from the band, with incredibly abrasive vocals running throughout; vocals which in fact become increasingly irritating as the album progresses, so that by the time you get to the final track, ‘Cypherspeed’, you have had enough of not just the ridiculous sound of the band’s singing, but also the harsh tones of the guitars which accompany it.
Surfing The Void can best be described as inconsistent. When it’s good, it’s very good; so good that on hearing the few tracks that do actually work on the album, you’d want to come back and repeatedly listen to them again and again. But in stark contrast to these successes, the rest of the album is filled with irritatingly alienating songs which are not only weak, but actually serve to annoy you.