SLAM WEEK: The Presets – Apocalypso

Is it a coincidence that the first words we hear are “When I was young”? No, it’s a lyrical premonition that drops the curtain to The Presets’ Apocalypso, an album which would debut at number one on the ARIA charts and take out 2008’s Album of The Year.  
You can’t not air drum to the gritty bass drum that builds Kicking and Screaming. The first track on the album embodies everything fun about a night spent dancing and the ecstasy in realizing just how much fun is currently being had: “never can believe how much fun we’re having.”
The opening song features a moaning war cry so animalistic you find yourself pulsating inside a midnight jungle rave, flame torch in both hands. Humming like a beast in the woods, vocalist Julian Hamilton levitates above twisting phasers and manic synthesizers channelling sounds from outer space. The record is an alien ode from a galaxy of pure electronic rapture.
Hamilton’s voice is so strong throughout the entire album, and reaches its highest level of rigidity in “My People”, where the Sydney-based front man unleashes a brainwashing lecture on all things party. Furthering into Apocalypso with vigorous energy, The Presets sign their name under the popular mega-phone-vocals trend that catapulted bands like Queen and Killers to the top of the dance charts.
Song after song, the Presets build an album of ballsy electro pop anthems laced with melodic falsetto hooks worthy of a good sing along. If you’re not busting a move to “If I Know You” and “Yippyo- Ay”, you’re nodding your head in quiet acceptance to the darker and slightly hypnotic “This Boy’s in Love”, the masculine “I Will Always Love You” of the clubbing world. Rest in Peace, Whitney Houston.
No stranger to a catchy vocal hook, the band double-line their tracks with equally punchy synth riffs, painting layers over solid four-to-the-floor bass beats. Apocalypso is a tasteful exhibition of no-frills lyrics and shiny mega pieces sculpted from an endless palette of electronic effects. While the Infectious and robotically charged “Talk Like That” sends your head spinning, instrumental track “Aeons” holds your hand as you slip through the cracks of the universe. With every minute of listening you become more immersed in the band’s contagious energy, and it is in nearing the end of the album that you find yourself oddly calm in a manic space odyssey, recovering from the audio incarnation of intense youthful craziness.
I’m not traditionally a big dance fan but this was one tour I didn’t miss, even if I was annoyingly under-age and shooed from the mosh like a fly on an itchy face. Still, in early 2009 the crowd of sweaty ravers, including me in the seated area, went mental to this live showcase of what would later become one of Australia’s greatest albums. It was awesome.
You don’t have to like night clubs, you don’t even have to like dancing, but you do have to appreciate what the Presets do, because they just do it so damn well.
by Phoebe Spinks

February 29th 2012
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