Review of Pacifica Album by The Presets

Dance music and concept albums aren't two themes you'd normally associate together. Unless you're The Presets that is. Having already released the sprawling 'Apocalypso' four years ago as a celebration of the end of time, 'Pacifica' takes that same concept one step further. Heralding a new world beyond the apocalypse where paradise and tranquillity loom, 'Pacifica' acts as The Presets' adventurous soundtrack. Or Desert Island discs for the post-rave brigade.

The Presets Pacifica Album

It's been a busy couple of years in between records for the Sydney based duo of Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton. Since the release of 'Apocalypso', both have become fathers and there's no doubt that such pressing matters as parenthood helped augment the more mature sound of this record. Certainly when compared to 2004's 'Blow Up' EP, released at the height of the media accentuated new rave fad, it almost feels like a different band. Whereas then it was all about sleep depriving tales of hedonism, now they're more likely to be found trading atmospherics like an older, wiser Friendly Fires. Or for those old enough to remember, early nineties indie-dance crossover specialists The Beloved.

Comprising ten tracks in total, 'Pacifica' isn't aimed at the all hours clubbing crowd its predecessors were indebted to. Instead, its textured beats and occasional dips into ambient waters make a refreshing change from the relentless pounding beats that many of The Presets' contemporaries continue to peddle out. Opener 'Youth In Trouble', a six-minute long epic that recalls Hot Chip around the time of 'The Warning', offers a deceptive introduction to what's really at the heart of 'Pacifica'.

'Ghosts' takes a more reflective, if light-hearted, stance. 'Cocaine, song, women and wine,' opines Hamilton nostalgically over a melody that mixes Nik Kershaw's 'The Riddle' with a backbeat that Karin and Olof Dreijer of The Knife would knock out in their sleep. The energetic dance-infused pop of 'Promises' and insistent chorus that turns 'Push' into Chase & Status territory also resonate with an infectious glow. One that asks the baffling question: why aren't The Presets a more commercially successful proposition?

Unfortunately, the answer probably lies within the rest of 'Pacifica'. While the likes of Soulwax meets Gary Numan electro waltz 'Fast Seconds' and call-and-response hi-energy disco number 'A.O.' (aka 'Adults Only') shine like beacons, they also find themselves engulfed and ultimately outnumbered by a plethora of forgettable indie dance filler by numbers.

As a result, 'Pacifica' loses impetus just as its creators looked to be on the cusp of delivering their finest collection to date. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to write off The Presets just yet and, as history has proven with numerous artists both past and present, adversity is a trait that brings out the best in most.

Dom Gourlay

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