Somebody dial 999 – the Mercury needs an ambulance
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.
Nu-rave, old-hat: Klaxons wig out