When The Presets returned from the musical wilderness back in June to announce details of their upcoming third album Pacifica, their choice of appetizer had some fans scratching their heads.
The six-and-a-half minute techno track Youth In Trouble is one of Pacifica’s least accessible moments, and sounds a million miles away from crunchy radio hits like Are You The One? and My People.
“It’s funny, because we thought Youth In Trouble was one of the more straightforward songs, but when we put it out everyone was saying it was this weird, long slow-burner. One person’s pop song is another person’s weird, inaccessible techno track, I guess,” frontman Julian Hamilton told the Star Observer.
Thankfully, the song works better in the context of what might be Hamilton and musical partner Kim Moyes’ most experimental record to date. Take the strangely haunting second single Ghosts, which marries a dance beat, some Coldplay-esque stadium chanting and a mournful sea shanty melody.
“It must be strange for you guys, but the music all just feels like us, because it’s coming out of us. But then when a song like Ghosts comes out and I hear it on the radio, I’ll think – holy shit, it does sound a bit different to My People! When you’re lost in the album, you don’t think about how people will react,” said Hamilton.
It’s been four years since the surprise success of The Presets’ sophomore number one album Apocalypso, and in that time both Hamilton and Moyes have become fathers. Hamilton explained that an enforced break of a couple of years was necessary after almost six years on the touring/recording treadmill, but that they also wanted to give their fans a breather.
“So many pop acts these days never go away – they put out three albums in four years, they’re in movies and releasing perfumes, and they just never fuck off! I really felt it was important for us to fuck off for a while so it’d mean something special when we came back.”
When they did eventually reconvene in the studio, the duo vowed to make their new album differently.
“For Apocalypso we wrote 11 songs and 10 of them went on the record – that was all we had. This time around, we were able to make beats, experiment and just make music for ourselves, not to get released,” said Hamilton.
“It’s been a long time since we’d done that. In the end, we wrote about 30 or 40 different ideas for songs and chose our favourites. It was a slow, relaxed process this time around.”
And while the music might sound a little different from previous efforts, The Presets’ knack for mixing politically astute lyrics into their songs remains intact.
“You can’t just write songs about drinking and screwing and partying all the time. You’ve got to find inspiration from lots of different places, and hopefully the songs on the album reflect that,” Hamilton said.
INFO: Pacifica (Modular) out September 7. The Presets play the Parklife Festival later this month.