Despite a decidedly low profile on the verdant shores of Britain, the duo of Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton are absolutely huge down under. Second album ‘Apocalypso’ swept up at the Australian BRIT-equivalent the ARIAs with an inescapable wave of critical adulation that most of the world’s other bands could only dream of matching.
Now though, comes the Presets third album and, like New Year or Kylie Minogue, Australia had ‘Pacifica’ well before us. While debut ‘Beams’ was a bubbling, unpredictable electronic masterpiece, second album ‘Apocalypso’ was a dancefloor smashing, out-Fischerspoonering affair, ‘Pacifica’ stands as a wildly temperamental compromise between those two drunk on a peculiar addiction to mainstream action.
It only takes two tracks but ‘Pacifica’ firmly establishes itself as a monument to duality. Synths so sharp they cut, with exquisite pacing leading to earth-shattering crescendo and crescendo, a relentless march all led by a deep and entrancing voice of dark and foreboding statements. Or; twinkling disco cliches, slow burning into disappointing pay-offs of kitschy melodrama.
After a shadowy promising start in ‘Youth in Trouble’, some smiling for the cameras and kissing babies (‘Ghosts’ and ‘Promises’), Moyes and Hamilton allow glimpses into the dark beating heart of the Presets with ‘Push’ a jerky, filmic blur that merges into the euphoric trance of ‘Fall’. The pace relents into another lull of songs that are too easily forgettable packages. The disinterest is shattered with the bombast of ‘Adults Only’, a song that merges every germ of an idea from the surrounding songs into a definitive statement of intent. Blending industrial-strength techno with glossy sheen, it comes off absolutely resplendent. Before the album skips out the exit door ‘Fast Seconds’ only serves to underline their mainstream dance credentials, counting down the seconds into a claustrophobic but fleeting crescendo of deafening, shuddering synths.
It’s frequently said ‘It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be’, but the problem isn’t how good The Presets are; on the previous two albums and in glimpses on ‘Pacifica’ they’ve proved to be amazing. The question, with potentially an incredibly exciting answer, is – how good do The Presets want to be?