There have been many songs about outer space that have graced the radio in the past several decades. David Bowie introduced the world to the fictional astronaut junkie Major Tom in his 1968 single “Space Oddity,” while Elton John reveled in the euphoric feelings of being in the outer world in his 1972 single “Rocket Man.” August 23 marked the release of yet another slew of space-themed tunes collected in a single album — Klaxons’ “Surfing the Void.”
Hailing from London, the British quartet Klaxons are known for their “New Rave” sound — basically dance-punk (when Klaxons joked to NME Magazine in 2007 that they were a “New Rave” band, they didn’t realize the label would stick). Similar in sound and theme to their debut “Myths of the Near Future”, Klaxons’ “Surfing the Void” stays true to the nature of new rave. It is an album full of dance tunes that give off a futuristic vibe in sound and composition.
The record opens with “Echoes,” a burst of electro-pop energy and even deeper themes of the ethereal and otherworldly pleasures. The upbeat stomp of drums that resonates throughout “The Same Space” adds an exciting yet assertive tone to a song that could be a romance between two robots, or maybe even a reference to the close-knit living quarters of astronauts while they are in space (who knows?) — “Collective arrival / We share the same space / We feel the same impact on arrival and embrace.”
The title song, “Surfing the Void,” is a chaotic swirl of screams, echoes and high-pitched whispers — all perfect elements for a song about trying to escape the future. “Venusia” (a word that has no clear definition, according to the Oxford English Dictionary) sounds like a strange, sci-fi-movie theme song that could, lyrically, be an obscure drug reference or just meant to not make any sense at all. It’s nice to dance to, though.
“Extra Astronomical” opens with a grungy but electrifying beat that adds a dark theme to an already lyrically ambiguous song — verses like “Entropy evaporates / Absorbing the obscene” make you wonder whether you’re sitting in on an astronomy class or listening to song that tries but fails to talk about the complexities of outer space phenomena. “Twin Flames” is what one could describe as borderline ’80s New Wave, a love song with corny lines like “Twin flames in our hearts / As we turn towards our very start / Twin Flames in our minds / When we move emotions multiply.”
“Future Memories” is, at the very least, a tune of lyrical genius although almost every single line is oxymoronic. The album ends with the weirdly robotic “Cypherspeed,” which makes reference to more scientific terms that make absolutely no sense. But again, it’s great to dance to.
Klaxons’ “Surfing the Void” is a pretty mediocre album. The focus on everything astronomical is clever, but the music itself is not vastly different from their debut “Myths.” In fact, most of the songs could easily be inserted into their debut without anyone realizing. At 39 minutes long, the album is quite short, which is a major contradiction to lyrically epic topics such as space travel and intergalactic love affairs. It’s a great album for what it is — a New Rave, electro-pop dance record — but unfortunately, it leaves the listener with a sense of wanting more — like falling into a deep, dark, empty void.