Some­body dial 999 – the Mer­cury needs an am­bu­lance

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

The only in­ter­est­ing thing about Klax­ons is that their name comes from the Greek word mean­ing “to shriek”. The band were do­ing plenty of that when their Myths of the Near Fu­ture album un­de­servedly won the Mer­cury Mu­sic Prize Tues­day night by hood­wink­ing the piss-poor judges with their cliched and deriva­tive “nu-rave” mu­sic. Put bluntly, the band only have one song.

It is a very good song ( Golden Skans), but the album it­self just doesn’t hold up. How richly ironic that the Mer­cury panel– which is al­ways blab­bing on about “the supremacy of the album, not just one or two ra­dio-friendly hits” – gave the prize to a sin­gles band which doesn’t even have two ra­dio-friendly hits.

You can’t help feel­ing the judges gave this award not to the band but to a “I be­lieve nu-rave is fright­fully pop­u­lar with the young peo­ple” be­lief. But then we are talk­ing about a judg­ing panel which one year gave the award to MPeo­ple over Blur, Pulp, The Prodigy and the god­like Paul Weller. An­other year they gave it to Roni Size over Ra­dio­head’s OK Com­puter, which is one of the best al­bums of, oh, the last three decades. An­other year they gave the prize to Gomez, those gorm­less and wan fools, over two of the most con­sis­tently fas­ci­nat­ing and en­gag­ing UK bands of the present era: Mas­sive At­tack and Asian Dub Foun­da­tion.

To fur­ther ir­ri­tate, Klax­ons lead singer Jamie Reynolds had the gall to pro­claim that he knew his band were go­ing to win over Amy Wine­house be­cause “she made a retro record and we’ve made the most for­ward-think­ing record”. This from a man who nos­tal­gi­cally gives out glow­sticks to mem­bers of the au­di­ence and proudly uses the word “rave” to de­scribe his band’s sound.

OK, maybe I did lose a tidy sum with Lad­brokes on Bat For Lashes not win­ning, but I’m not a soli­tary narky voice here. You’ll have to trust me that I’ve just made a ran­dom choice in pick­ing one UK pa­per re­view of Myths of the Near Fu­ture. That pa­per is the Guardian, whose reviewer gave Klax­ons one star out of five and wrote: “For the most part, the album is a mess of clumsy beats that never settle into a groove, lurch­ing shout-along chants more suited to the foot­ball sta­dium than the dance-floor and un­pleas­ant-sound­ing, over­driven bass. The songs de­scend the same chords re­peat­edly and pon­der­ously, as if the band were fall­ing down the same flight of stairs over and over again.

“Most un­for­giv­ably, there’s the ap­palling pro­duc­tion . . . [the band are] indie chancers and try­ing to pass this ropey stuff off as a dance re­vival is in­sult­ing and point­less.”

Any other of the 12 short­listed acts would have made a more wor­thy win­ner (ex­cept for Basquiat Strings, who give me a mi­graine). Bat For Lashes should have won for the sim­ple rea­son that her in­ven­tive mu­sic de­serves a far wider au­di­ence. Good old Amy Wine­house picked her­self up to sing the lovely Love Is a Los­ing Game on the night – and mu­si­cally, there’s more stuff go­ing on in one of her mid­dleeights than on the en­tire Klax­ons album ( Golden Skans ex­cepted).

The best album on the short­list was by Jamie T, an ur­ban word­smith who has right­fully earned him­self com­par­isons to Joe Strum­mer and Billy Bragg. Yet his per­ceived (but ut­terly er­ro­neous) com­par­i­son to Mike Skin­ner was al­ways go­ing to pre­vent Jamie T from win­ning.

Apart from Klax­ons them­selves, the only happy peo­ple at Lon­don’s Grosvenor Ho­tel last Tues­day were the book­ies, with the bloke from Lad­brokes say­ing: “We were pleased to get Bat For Lashes beaten – that would have been the worst re­sult for us. The Klax­ons win was a shock.”

And ex­cuse the high-mind­ed­ness, but what­ever about shock, it’s also an af­front to mu­si­cal sen­si­bil­i­ties. The Mer­cury Mu­sic Awards will be broad­cast tonight on BBC2 at 11.35pm.

bboyd@ir­ish-times.ie

Nu-rave, old-hat: Klax­ons wig out

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