The Presets : Pacifica
It’s been over four years since the release of the last album by The Presets, the multiple ARIA award winning Apocalypso. That behemoth spawned numerous smash singles that crossed over on radio and television airwaves internationally. Playing live, The Presets have filled countless stadiums and headlined festivals across Europe, USA, UK, Australia and everywhere in between.
That was then, this is now, and the new album Pacifica was announced in June this year with much anticipation. The lead-in single, and album opener was the Underworld-esque Youth In Trouble. This first taste was consistent with the slightly ominous, twisted electronic pop of the previous releases. The surprise this time around is Pacifica is overall more song-focused, varied and stripped-back, with less electro bangers. Second single Ghosts, along with Promises, and Fall, verge on early '80s new wave territory – think early Depeche Mode and The Human League with vocals way up in the mix, soaring melodic synth progressions, delicate piano stabs, electronic kit beats, and rubbery bass lines. These are new directions for the duo, seemingly happy to be mixing things up. It’s Cool is almost a nod to the liquid drum and bass sound made famous by LTJ Bukem and Hospital Records early last decade.
It’s not a complete departure however, as the more traditional Presets sound is still present, particularly in the second half of the album. Adults Only, Surrender, and Fast Seconds have catchy effected vocal hooks and are heavy on the bass with ravey samples and beats, but they are more restrained than times of old. Ambient album closer Fail Epic with its vocal “can’t win everything, everything everytime” could be prophetic. Perhaps The Presets have been willing to take that risk with Pacifica, somewhat care-free of the outcome. The step out of their comfort zone is a bold but understandable move. Imagine the yearning desire to make something ‘different’ after years of relentless touring and playing the same heaving monsters show after show, night after night. That said, it will be interesting to see how this new batch of ditties come across in a live context. Equally, whether Pacifica ultimately stands the test of time to claim the ‘classic’ title like Apocalypso, and Beams before it.
BY SCOTT NICOLSON
Best Track: Fast Seconds
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