The Presets' Pacifica

Mentioned the first single off Pacifica a couple of months ago and now I've had a couple of listens to The Presets new album. It's a lot of fun, reminds me more of their first album Beams in the variety of sounds on there. It's more like a compilation.

Apocalypso was a very popular album, for me it was the edge on the production -- or rather, the distortion and white noise (which is more fuzzy than sharp, admittedly).

Recently I heard the tour edition of that album and it had a different track order, which worked surprisingly well but maybe because it pushed back the rawness of My People, which I gather was a very different sounding track before it was re-mixed.

In a interview in Audio Technology magazine, Kim Moyes said the mix of My People was

pretty full-on. It got brutal in the top end and the drums were really small. Initially I was really happy with it -- I thought is sounded like Metallica. It didn't sound like a house track.

Knowing it was going to be the first single, Pav (Steve Pavlovic, Modular Records boss) suggested we give this guy in LA John Fields a try to see what he came up with. We sent him the tune and he mixed it really well. The drums were massive; everything was really aggressive and a lot of the top end had been reined in.

Being the deluxe schmuck I am, it'd be great to hear that earlier draft of the track. Another snippet from that interview is this view of Julian Hamilton's home studio; seriously love the milk crates.

Apocalypso had a sound acorss the tracks in a way that Beams and Pacifica don't. Dunno, I get a sense of tracks on those albums kinda synthesising popular sounds. For example, the Pacifica track Promises is a big single waiting for summer, it kinda reminds me of Friendly Fires or Passion Pit. Anyway, hopefully it'll be a big summer single. And Fast Seconds is another great track, it's been replayed a couple of times in my household. It'll be killer in their live show.

There's a vocal effect on A.O. that reminds me of The Knife and Fever Ray but it doesn't hide the best lyrics, starting with the opening line about a kookaburra sitting in a tree not named. It's an obvious reference to the case brought against Men At Work for referencing the melody to Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree and the following line about feeling "the shame" is one I'll interpret as an admission to theft because I'm pretty sure every musician has stolen.

The remainder of A.O.'s lyrics focus on the state of Sydney and there's a wry line about schizophrenic tourist being shot and the choice line:

little old ladies die afraid and alone
surrounded by yuppies, small bars and coke

The title is a nice reference to the Adults Only tag that was used for classifying mature content on television back in the day; but I also like that those initials stand for Order of Australia -- as if the angry lyrics about the gentrification of Sydney make it a synecdoche for the country.

Pacifica is a strong album, full of pop hooks and synthy programming with some off the grid drumming. Often I get the feeling The Presets are writing for a different demographic than mine but they're a fascinating band to watch, particularly now they're aiming for bigger venues than the clubs they were touring before Apocalypso broke. And that's one other observation, there's something more anthemic about the choruses that makes me think that when I hear them live I'll get a whole new appreciation. Thing is, this time they'll be in a much larger venue.