The Presets – Apocalypso (Modular)

Stay tuned for a Presets prize pack giveaway later this week as well as part 1 of our 2-part exclusive interview!

Sydney’s most notable electro-export in recent years is undoubtedly the Presets. Their debut LP Beams in 2005 is still one of the most convincing testaments to the infinite power of fusing the essence of electronic-driven genres like techno, electro and house with more traditional song structures and pop flavoring to make digestible dance tracks that aim to, and often succeed at, bringing the roof down.

On Apocalypso, Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes take their sound to a much darker realm. The entire album bears more European influence, consisting of much deeper techno and house grooves along with a more distant, synthetic and cold feel but tones down the oversexualized aspects present in many tracks off their 2005 debut Beams. As a whole, Apocalypso is much more cohesive than Beams, yet suffers from a certain bit of monotony with style and sound.

“Kicking & Screaming” starts the album off on an intense note, with a viciously addictive, hard-pounding beat, swirling synths and a twisted interpretation of the ominous-but-really-originally-humorous “oh wee oh” from the Wizard of Oz.

The sweltering “My People” and “A New Sky” bring more electro and distorted strains of pop to the table. “This Boy’s in Love” goes straight for the kill as an insanely catchy electro-pop dance floor melter with its sparse piano-twinkles, lush bass synth line and angelic vocal choruses offset by a deeper, fuller, octave-lower voice for verses.

The melodramatic-bordering-on-theatrical opening of the following track, “Talk Like That,” seals the deal for a one-two punch of the album’s highlights. A dance-variation with a tune that sounds ripped straight out of “Phantom of the Opera.”

“Eucalpytus” takes off like a bullet, with a vivacious tempo that runs circles around most every other track on the album, but is a bit confused, juxtaposing passages of airy pop vocals with those possessin a more aggressive, heavy and self-destructive bent.

“If I Know You” is a spacious, bitter-sweet dance-pop number while “Together” comes straight out of a sweat-drenched, feverish industrial dance night with synth lines that orbit meltdown scattered throughout the track.

The album closes on a more detached, outer-space note. “Anywhere” takes its time building, feeling pedestrian with its simple drum machine beat and short of momentum in the first minute or so, but picks up as the soaring vocals lift the mood into a great, more affecting place.

Some tracks fall flat. The faux-funk of “Yippiyo-Ay” as an approximation of electronified Michael Jackson doesn’t quite work for me. The searching “Aeons” falls short of the instrumental opus Julian and Kim were clearly looking for.

But overall, a strong sophomore effort. The entire album retains a distinct Presets touch, hiding dance and pop nuggets in every track, no matter how sinister, dark and moody. With this album, the Presets have further refined their knack for catchy, dense song-writing that wills you into motion.

It seems that the Aussies are poised to be taking over dance floors worldwide with such strong material from the Presets and Modular-mates Cut Copy. It’s a good time to be from Oceania.

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