Electonic band The Presets return with their third studio album, ‘Pacifica’, after a 4 year break. Ben Egan finds out if the wait was worth it.
The Presets shall be releasing their third full-length studio album, called Pacifica, in the UK on 16 September 2012. For those unaware of who The Presets are, they are an Australian duo made up of Julian and Kim (both guys). Their first album, Beams, was released back in 2005 and was followed up by Apocalypso in 2008. The band were the first electronic act to win the ‘Album of the Year’ award at the Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards (ARIA for short) and have remixed songs for none other than the Kings of Leon and Lenny Kravitz amongst a bunch of others.
The band has quite a long history and it is now that they are looking to add a few more awards to their already quite heavy belt with this release.
It is difficult to define the sound of the band with this release. Musically, the band has a real retro Pet Shop Boys sound; however, they are by no means dated. Vocally, many of the songs feel influenced by The Killers’ lead singer Brandon Flowers, yet at other points there are signs of Mika thrown into the mix too. Needless to say, broadly speaking, Pacifica is a very ambitious and original mix – the break certainly served them well.
The album starts eerie and dark, and after a lengthy one-minute introduction, the daring, deep vocals in ‘Youth In Trouble’ appear. The track has a subtle undertone of a beat running throughout and remains very much on the same level to the end. You may well be left willing the song to pick up in pace and you might ask yourself; ‘Is it like this throughout?’. Thankfully, no. The song finally opens up spilling colour, beats and musical genius all over the place, setting the pace for the rest of the album. ‘Ghosts’ is an anthem-like track, featuring blistering sing-along type vocals and a catchy, drum-infused beat. The story-like lyrics make this an album highlight.
‘Promises’ is a more commercial, radio-friendly track which seems almost slightly out of place. And this is where the album slightly slips up. It doesn’t really have an identity and it slightly feels as though they try their hand at too many genres to really nail each one. When The Presets get it right they do excel. The synths in ‘Push’ make it another anthem-esque track, yet ‘It’s Cool’ almost seems dull in comparison to the rest of the album.
The Presets have injected a lot of love and passion into this album to make it their own and, speaking in an overall sense, the album is executed well. The electronic feel is one that is going to appeal to a lot of people and when they get it right it is hard not to fall a little bit in love with the band. Sadly, at times, they try to be a bit too radical and diverse. But Pacifica is an ambitious, polished release as a package and will make no fans of dance/electronic music think otherwise, we are sure of it.
Go Get It: ‘Ghosts’ / ‘Push’
Forget It: ‘It’s Cool’