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One of the first combos to play rave music with instruments: dubbed “nu-rave” by their lead singer, the KLAXONS signalled their intentions and ambitions from the get-go on a handful of various format singles that led up to a debut set that just about gate-crashed the No.1 spot; a position they never came close to thereafter.
Formed in 2005 in the New Cross area of London, singer/bassist Jamie Reynolds, singer/keyboardist James Righton (born Stratford-upon-Avon) and guitarist/singer Simon Taylor-Davis – HATCHAM SOCIAL’s Finnegan Kidd performed live drums – the trio quickly won the hype-fuelled hearts of the NME with a triumvirate of indie singles: `Gravity’s Rainbow’, `Atlantis 2 Interzone’ and the Australian-only tour EP, `Xan Valleys’.
With a bona fide drummer Steffan Halperin now on show, the Polydor-endorsed Rinse Records (Geffen in the States) signed England’s most promising act, and almost immediately they’d a chart act on their hands when both `Magick’ and `Golden Skans’ reached Top 30 and Top 10 respectively; a listen to the attendant space-age B-side bonus mixes lavished the band a further angle.
Spawned from early 2007’s MYTHS OF THE NEAR FUTURE {*8} debut set (produced by SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO’s James Ford); that also unveiled a revision of future hit, `Gravity’s Rainbow’, there was certainly a sense they’d listened to SUPER FURRY ANIMALS and/or BLOC PARTY. Whatever the dance-punk cloud they came under, or whatever the pigeonhole, their bell was ringing on the likes of other raucous beats: `Two Receivers’, `As Above, So Below’, and a No.13 hit cover of PAUL OAKENFOLD’s `It’s Not Over Yet’ (FRANKIE VALLI & THE FOUR SEASONS’ `The Night’ and JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE’s `My Love’ featured on the B-side). It was indeed no surprise then that the album won the prestigious Mercury Prize.
That proverbial “difficult second album” syndrome was certainly on the cards when, after an experimental 12-inch (`Sweetheart’) was licensed out to Blast First Petite; flipped coincidentally with ALAN VEGA Vega and No Bra tracks), the proposed finished efforts were rejected by Polydor. In order to get the ball rolling again, producer Ross Robinson duly came in to sort out the chaos. Now three and a half years since their debut set, KLAXONS had lost ground on their rivals, and when `Echoes’ performed quite poorly, album two SURFING THE VOID (2010) {*7}, only scraped into the Top 10. Ambitious to say the least, but certainly dispensing with that awful self-appointed “nu-rave” tag, there were challenges ahead, though kicking up space debris on the ADD N (TO X)-like `Cyberspeed’ and `Valley Of Calm Trees’, or leaving a trail of psychedelic rock behind a la `The Same Space’, `Extra Astronomical’, `Flashover’ and failed single `Twin Flames’, was no mean feat. And when the 5-track outtakes EP, `Landmarks Of Lunacy’ was given away free on their website, both Polydor and Geffen had marked their cards.
Far from the maddening crowds; and a couple since 2011, Righton married top Brit actress Keira Knightley in May 2013; they went on to have two daughters Edie (b. May 2015) and Delilah (b. August 2019). In the meantime, tour-only drummer George Latham replaced Halperin. And back on terra firma, but once again shockingly too late to join the party, independent label Akashic Rekords produced something akin to electro-indie pop for the trio’s third Top 40 set, LOVE FREQUENCY (2014) {*5}. Featuring a pair of minor hits, `There Is No Other Time’ and `Show Me A Miracle’, KLAXONS sounded the bell and clocked out the following year. One had to ask oneself: where did it all go wrong. It was only several years back they were performing and mixing in “Golden Skans” for `Umbrella’ on stage with RIHANNA at the Brits. Though as sure as eggs is eggs, so to speak, we’ve not heard the last of the KLAXONS.
© MC Strong/MCS Nov2019

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